Hagakure: Book of the Samurai
2 nd version, revised January 2005
About this ebook iii
1 Although it stands 1
2 It is said that 52
3 Lord Naoshige once said 77
4 When Nabeshima Tadanao 79
5 No text 82
6 When Lord Takanobu 83
7 Narutomi Hyogo said 90
8 On the night of the thirteenth day 104
9 When Shimomura Shoun 124
10 There was a certain retainer 134
11 In the "Notes on Martial Laws" 151
12 Late night idle talk 166
About this ebook
This is the first release of the book and Lapo would appre-
ciate if you inform him of any spelling or typographic error via
email at lapo . moriOstudenti . ing . unipi . it.
Lapo expresses his gratitude for spelling corrections to: Oliver
Hagakure is the essential book of the Samurai. Written by
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, who was a Samurai in the early 1700s,
it is a book that combines the teachings of both Zen and Con-
fucianism. These philosophies are centered on loyalty, devotion,
purity and selflessness, and Yamamoto places a strong emphasis
on the notion of living in the present moment with a strong and
The Samurai were knights who defended and fought for their
lords at a time when useful farming land was scarce and in
need of protection. They believed in duty, and gave themselves
completely to their masters. The Samurai believed that only
after transcending all fear could they obtain peace of mind and
yield the power to serve their masters faithfully and loyally even
in the face of death.
The word Hagakure literally translates as hidden beneath
the leaves and also fallen leaves. Perhaps it was named this
because at the time that it was written, the way of the samurai
was becoming obsolete.
The Hagakure has been rewritten in modern terms by one
of Japan's famous writers, Yukio Mishima. His own views were
very similar to those of Yamamoto, particularly the philosophy
of cultivating the self. His characters all had self sufficiency in
common, and did not rely upon anyone else for completion.
Although the Hagakure was written centuries ago for a breed
of warriors that no longer exist, the philosophies and wisdom
within are still practical, even in our modern times.
Although it stands
LTHOUGH it stands to reason that a samurai should
be mindful of the Way of the Samurai, it would
seem that we are all negligent. Consequently, if
someone were to ask, "What is the true meaning
of the Way of the Samurai?" the person who would be able to
answer promptly is rare. This is because it has not been estab-
lished in one's mind beforehand. From this, one's unmindfulness
of the Way can be known.
Negligence is an extreme thing.
The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes
to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not
particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that
dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the
frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of
life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic
according to what we like. But not having attained our aim
and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous
line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and
fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance
of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every
morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were
already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will
be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
A man is a good retainer to the extent that he earnestly
places importance in his master. This is the highest sort of
retainer. If one is born into a prominent family that goes back
for generations, it is sufficient to deeply consider the matter of
obligation to one's ancestors, to lay down one's body and mind,
and to earnestly esteem one's master. It is further good fortune
if, more than this, one has wisdom and talent and can use them
appropriately. But even a person who is good for nothing and
exceedingly clumsy will be a reliable retainer if only he has the
determination to think earnestly of his master. Having only
wisdom and talent is the lowest tier of usefulness.
According to their nature, there are both people who have
quick intelligence, and those who must withdraw and take time
to think things over. Looking into this thoroughly, if one thinks
selflessly and adheres to the four vows of the Nabeshima samu-
rai, surprising wisdom will occur regardless of the high or low
points of one's nature.
People think that they can clear up profound matters if they
consider them deeply, but they exercise perverse thoughts and
come to no good because they do their reflecting with only self-
interest at the center.
It is difficult for a fool's habits to change to selflessness. In
confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix
the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an
effort, you will not go far from your mark.
Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity
we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things
do not turn out well. As seen by other people this is sordid,
weak, narrow and inefficient. When one is not capable of true
intelligence, it is good to consult with someone of good sense.
An advisor will fulfill the Way when he makes a decision by self-
less and frank intelligence because he is not personally involved.
This way of doing things will certainly be seen by others as be-
ing strongly rooted. It is, for example, like a large tree with
many roots. One man's intelligence is like a tree that has been
simply stuck in the ground.
We learn about the sayings and deeds of the men of old in or-
der to entrust ourselves to their wisdom and prevent selfishness.
When we throw off our own bias, follow the sayings of the an-
cients, and confer with other people, matters should go well and
without mishap. Lord Katsushige borrowed from the wisdom of
Lord Naoshigc. This is mentioned in the Ohanashikikigaki. We
should be grateful for his concern.
Moreover, there was a certain man who engaged a number of
his younger brothers as retainers, and whenever he visited Edo
or the Kamigata area, he would have them accompany him. As
he consulted with them everyday on both private and public
matters, it is said that he was without mishap.
Sagara Kyuma was completely at one with his master and
served him as though his own body were already dead. He was
one man in a thousand.
Once there was an important meeting at Master Sakyo's
Mizugae Villa, and it was commanded that Kyuma was to com-
mit seppuku. At that time in Osaki there was a teahouse on
the third floor of the suburban residence of Master Taku Nut.
Kyuma rented this, and gathering together all the good-for-
nothings in Saga he put on a puppet show, operating one of
the puppets himself, carousing and drinking all day and night.
Thus, overlooking Master Sakyo's villa, he carried on and caused
a great disturbance. In instigating this disaster he gallantly
thought only of his master and was resolved to committing sui-
Being a retainer is nothing other than hemp a supporter
of one's lord, entrusting matters of good and evil to him, and
renouncing self-interest. If there are but two or three men of
this type, the fief will be secure.
If one looks at the world when affairs are going smoothly,
there arc many who go about putting in their appearance, be-
ing useful by their wisdom, discrimination and artfulness. How-
ever, if the lord should retire or go into seclusion, there are
many who will quickly turn their backs on him and ingratiate
themselves to the man of the day. Such a thing is unpleasant
even to think about. Men of high position, low position, deep
wisdom and artfulness all feel that they are the ones who are
working righteously, but when it comes to the point of throwing
away one's life for his lord, all get weak in the knees. This is
rather disgraceful. The fact that a useless person often becomes
a matchless warrior at such times is because he has already given
up his life and has become one with his lord. At the time of Mit-
sushige's death there was an example of this. His one resolved
attendant was I alone. The others followed in my wake. Always
the pretentious, self-asserting notables turn their backs on the
man just as his eyes are closing in death.
Loyalty is said to be important in the pledge between lord
and retainer. Though it may seem unobtainable, it is right
before your eyes. If you once set yourself to it, you will become
a superb retainer at that very moment.
To give a person one's opinion and correct his faults is an
important thing. It is compassionate and comes first in matters
of service. But the way of doing this is extremely difficult. To
discover the good and bad points of a person is an easy thing,
and to give an opinion concerning them is easy, too. For the
most part, people think that they are being kind by saying the
things that others find distasteful or difficult to say. But if it is
not received well, they think that there is nothing more to be
done. This is completely worthless. It is the same as brining
shame to a person by slandering him. It is nothing more than
getting it off one's chest.
To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether
that person is of the disposition to receive it or not. One must
become close with him and make sure that he continually trusts
one's word. Approaching subjects that are dear to him, seek
the best way to speak and to be well understood. Judge the
occasion, and determine whether it is better by letter or at the
time of leavetaking. Praise his good points and use every device
to encourage him, perhaps by talking about one's own faults
without touching on his, but so that they will occur to him.
Have him receive this in the way that a man would drink water
when his throat is dry, and it will be an opinion that will correct
This is extremely difficult. If a person s fault is a habit of
some years prior, by and large it won't be remedied. I have had
this experience myself. To be intimate with alt one's comrades,
correcting each other's faults, and being of one mind to be of use
to the master is the great compassion of a retainer. By bringing
shame to a person, bow could one expect to make him a better
It is bad taste to yawn in front of people. When one un-
expectedly has to yawn, if he rubs his forehead in an upward
direction , the sensation will stop . If that does not work, he can
lick his lips while keeping his mouth closed, or simply hide it
with his hand or his sleeve in such a way that no one will know
what he is doing. It is the same with sneezing. One will ap-
pear foolish. There are other things besides these about which
a person should use care and training. When a certain person
was saying that present matters of economy should be detailed,
someone replied that this is not good at all.
It is a fact that ash will not live where the water is too
clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish will hide
under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the lower classes will live
in tranquillity if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left
unheard. This fact should be understood with regard to people's
Once when Lord Mitsushige was a little boy and was sup-
posed to recite from a copybook for the priest Kaion, he called
the other children and acolytes and said, "Please come here and
listen. It's difficult to read if there are hardly any people listen-
ing." The priest was impressed and said to the acolytes, "That's
the spirit in which to do everything."
Every morning one should first do reverence to his master
and parents and then to his patron deities and guardian Bud-
dhas. If he will only make his master first in importance, his
parents will rejoice and the gods and Buddhas will give their
assent. For a warrior there is nothing other than thinking of his
master . If one creates this resolution within himself, he will
always be mindful of the master's person and will not depart
from him even for a moment.
Moreover, a woman should consider her husband first, just
as he considers his master first.
According to a certain person, a number of years ago Mat-
suguma Kyoan told this story:
In the practice of medicine there is a differentiation of treat-
ment according to the Yin and Yang of men and women. There
is also a difference in pulse. In the last fifty years, however,
men's pulse has become the same as women's. Noticing this,
in the treatment of eye disease I applied women's treatment to
men and found it suitable. When I observed the application of
men's treatment to men, there was no result. Thus I knew that
men's spirit had weakened and that they had become the same
as women, and the end of the world had come. Since I witnessed
this with certainty, I kept it a secret.
When looking at the men of today with this in mind, those
who could be thought to have a woman's pulse are many indeed,
and those who seem like real men few. Because of this, if one
were to make a little effort, he would be able to take the upper
hand quite easily. That there are few men who arc able to
cut well in beheadings is further proof that men's courage has
waned. And when one comes to speak of kaishaku, it has become
an age of men who are prudent and clever at making excuses.
Forty or fifty years ago, when such things as matanuki were
considered manly, a man wouldn't show an unscarred thigh to
his fellows, so he would pierce it himself.
All of man's work is a bloody business. That fact, today, is
considered foolish, affairs are finished cleverly with words alone,
and jobs that require effort are avoided. I would like young men
to have some understanding of this.
The priest Tannen used to say, 'People come to no under-
standing because priests teach only the doctrine of 'No Mind.'
What is called 'No Mind' is a mind that is pure and lacks com-
plication .' This is interesting.
Lord Sanenori said, "In the midst of a single breath, where
perversity cannot be held , is the Way. " If so, then the Way
is one. But there is no one who can understand this clarity at
first. Purity is something that cannot be attained except by
piling effort upon effort.
There is nothing that we should be quite so grateful for as
the last line of the poem that goes, ''When your own heart asks."
It can probably be thought of in the same way as the Nembutsu,
and previously it was on the lips of many people.
Recently, people who are called "clever" adorn themselves
with superficial wisdom and only deceive others. For this reason
they are inferior to dull-wilted folk. A dull- wilted person is
direct. If one looks deeply into his heart with the above phrase,
there will be no hidden places. It is a good examiner. One
should be of the mind that, meeting this examiner, he will not
The word gen means "illusion" or "apparition." In India,
a man who uses conjury is called a genjutsushi ["a master of
illusion technique"] . Everything in this world is but a marionette
show. Thus we use the word gen.
To hate injustice and stand on righteousness is a difficult
thing. Furthermore, to think that being righteous is the best
one can do and to do one's utmost to be righteous will, on the
contrary, brig many mistakes. The Way is in a higher place
then righteousness. This is very difficult to discover, but it is
the highest wisdom. When seen from this standpoint, things like
righteousness are rather shallow. If one does not understand this
on his own, it cannot be known. There is a method of getting
to this Way, however, even if one cannot discover it by himself.
This is found in consultation with others. Even a person who
has not attained this Way sees others front the side. It is like
the saying from the game of go: "He who sees from the side
has eight eyes." The saying, "Thought by thought we see our
own mistakes," also means that the highest Way is in discussion
with others. Listening to the old stories and reading books are
for the purpose of sloughing off one's own discrimination and
attaching oneself to that of the ancients.
A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following:
In one's life, there are levels in the pursuit of study. In the
lowest level, a person studies but nothing comes of it, and he
feels that both he and others are unskillful. At this point he
is worthless. In the middle level he is still useless but is aware
of his own insufficiencies and can also see the insufficiencies of
others. In a higher level he has pride concerning his own ability,
rejoices in praise from others, and laments the lack of ability in
his fellows. This man has worth. In the highest level a man has
the look of knowing nothing.
These are the levels in general;. But there is one transcend-
ing level, and this is the most excellent of all. This person is
aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way
arid never thinks of himself as having finished. He truly knows
his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that
he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of pride but with self-
abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that Master
Yagyu once remarked, "I do not know the way to defeat others,
but the way to defeat myself."
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful
than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.
Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall there was this
one: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly." Mas-
ter lttei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated
seriously." Among one's affairs there should not be more than
two or three matters of what one could call great concern. If
these are deliberated upon during ordinary times, they can be
understood. Thinking about things previously and then han-
dling them lightly when the time comes is what this is all about.
To face an event anew solve it lightly is difficult if you are not
resolved beforehand, and there will always be uncertainty in hit-
ting your mark. However, if the foundation is laid previously,
you can think of the saying, 'Matters of great concern should
be treated lightly," as your own basis for action.
A certain person spent several years of service in Osaka and
then returned home. When he made his appearance at the local
bureau, everyone was put out and he was made a laughingstock
because he spoke in the Kamigata dialect. Seen in this light,
when one spends a long time in ado or the Kamigata area, he
had better use his native dialect even more than usual.
When in a more sophisticated area it is natural that one
s disposition be affected by different styles. But it is vulgar
and foolish to look down upon the ways of one's own district
as being boorish, or to be even a bit open to the persuasion of
the other place's ways and to think about giving up one's own.
That one's own district is unsophisticated and unpolished is a
great treasure. Imitating another style is simply a sham.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra
Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku
replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the
Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a
different sect altogether." This is reasonable.
At the time when there was a council concerning the promo-
tion of a certain man, the council members were at the point
of deciding that promotion was useless because of the fact that
the man had previously been involved in a drunken brawl. But
someone said, "If we were to cast aside every man who had made
a mistake once, useful men could prob- ably not be come by. A
man who makes a mistake once will be considerably more pru-
dent and useful because of his repentance. I feet that he should
Someone else then asked, "Will you guarantee him?" The
man replied, "Of course I will."
The others asked, "By what will you guarantee him?"
And he replied, "I can guarentee him by the fact that he is
a man who has erred once. A man who bas never once erred is
dangerous." This said, the man was promoted.
At the time of a deliberation concerning criminals, Nakane
Kazuma proposed making the punishment one degree lighter
than what would be appropriate. This is a treasury of wisdom
that only he was the possessor of. At that time, though there
were several men in attendance, if it had not been for Kazuma
alone, no one would have opened his mouth. For this reason he
is called Master Commencement and Master Twenty-five Days.
A certain person was brought to shame because he did not
take revenge. The way of revenge lies in simply forcing one's
way into a place and being cut down. There is no shame in this.
By thinking that you must complete the job you will run out
of time. By considering things like how many men the enemy
has, time piles up; in the end you will give up. No matter if
the enemy has thousands of men, there is fulfillment in simply
standing them off and being determined to cut them all down,
starting from one end. You will finish the greater part of it.
Concerning the night assault of Lord Asano's ronin, the fact
that they did not commit seppuku at the Sengakuji was an error,
for there was a long delay between the time their lord was struck
down and the time when they struck down the enemy. If Lord
Kira had died of illness within that period, it would have been
extremely regrettable. Because the men of the Kamigata area
have a very clever sort of wisdom, they do well at praiseworthy
acts but cannot do things indiscriminately, as was done in the
Although all things are not to be judged in this manner, I
mention it in the investigation of the Way of the Samurai. When
the time comes, there is no moment for reasoning. And if you
have not done your inquiring beforehand , there is most often
shame. Reading books and listening to people's talk are for the
purpose of prior resolution.
Above all, the Way of the Samurai should be in being aware
that you do not know what is going to happen next, and in
querying every item day and night. Victory and defeat are
matters of the temporary force of circumstances. The way of
avoiding shame is different. It is simply in death.
Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither
wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does
not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards
an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your
There are two things that will blemish a retainer, and these
are riches and honor. If one but remains in strained circum-
stances, he will not be marred.
Once there was a certain man who was very clever, but it
was his character to always see the negative points of his jobs.
In such a way, one will be useless. If one does not get it into his
head from the very beginning that the world is full of unseemly
situations, for the most part his demeanor will be poor and he
will not be believed by others. And if one is not believed by
others, no matter how good a person he may be, he will not
have the essence of a good person. This can also be considered
as a blemish.
There was a man who said, "Such and such a person has a
violent disposition, but this is what I said right to his face...
This was an unbecoming thing to say, and it was said simply
because he wanted to be known as a rough fellow. It was rather
low, and it can be seen that he was still rather immature. It
is because a samurai has correct manners that he is admired.
Speaking of other people in this way is no different from an
exchange between low class spearmen. It is vulgar.
It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to
put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at
that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have
grasped the bastes, then practicing so that they may come to
fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime.
Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you
have discovered, but simply think, "This is not enough." One
should search throughout his whole life how best to follow the
Way. And he should study, setting his mind to work without
putting things off. Within this is the Way.
These are from the recorded sayings of Yamamoto Jin'-emon:
• If you can understand one affair, you will understand eight.
• An affected laugh shows lack of self-respect in a man and
lewdness in a woman.
• Whether speaking formally or informally one should look
his listener in the eye. A polite greeting is done at the
beginning and finished. Speaking with downcast eyes is
• It is carelessness to go about with one's hands inside the
slits in the sides of his hakama.
• After reading books and the like, it is best to burn them
or throw them away. It is said that reading books is the
work of the Imperial Court, but the work of the House
of Nakano is found in military valor, grasping the staff of
• A samurai with no group and no horse is not a samurai at
• A kusemono is a man to rely upon. It is said that one
should rise at four in the morning, bathe and arrange his
hair daily, eat when the sun comes up, and retire when it
• A samurai will use a toothpick even though he has not
eaten. Inside the skin of a dog, outside the hide of a tiger.
How should a person respond when he is asked, "As a human
being, what is essential in terms of purpose and discipline?"
First, let us say, "It is to become of the mind that is right now
pure and lacking complications." People in general all seem to
be dejected. When one has a pure and uncomplicated mind,
his expression will be lively. When one is attending to matters,
there is one thing that comes forth from his heart. That is, in
terms of one's lord, loyalty; in terms of one's parents, filial piety;
in martial affairs, bravery ; and apart from that, something that
can be used by all the world.
This is very difficult to discover. Once discovered, it is again
difficult to keep in constant effect. There is nothing outside the
thought of the immediate moment.
Every morning, the samurai of fifty or sixty years ago would
bathe, shave their foreheads, put lotion in their hair, cut their
fingernails and toenails rubbing them with pumice and then
with wood sorrel, and without fail pay attention to their per-
sonal appearance . It goes without saying that their armor in
general was kept free from rust, that it was dusted, shined, and
Although it seems that taking special care of one's appear-
ance is similar to showiness, it is nothing akin to elegance. Even
if you are aware that you may be struck down today and are
firmly resolved to an inevitable death, if you are slain with an
unseemly appearance, you will show your lack of previous re-
solve, will be despised by your enemy, and will appear unclean.
For this reason it is said that both old and young should take
care of their appearance.
Although you say that this is troublesome and time-consuming,
a samurai's work is in such things. It is neither busy- work nor
time-consuming. In constantly hardening one's resolution to die
in battle, deliberately becoming as one already dead, and work-
ing at one's job and dealing with military affairs, there should be
no shame. But when the time comes, a person will be shamed
if he is not conscious of these things even in his dreams, and
rather passes his days in self- interest and selfindulgence. And
if he thinks that this is not shameful, and feels that nothing
else matters as long as he is comfortable, then his dissipate and
discourteous actions will be repeatedly regrettable.
The person without previous resolution to inevitable death
makes certain that his death will be in bad form. But if one is
resolved to death beforehand, in what way can he be despicable?
One should be especially diligent in this concern.
Furthermore, during the last thirty years customs have changed;
now when young samurai jeer together, if there is not just talk
about money matters, loss and gain, secrets, clothing styles or
matters of sex, there is no reason to gather together at all. Cus-
toms are going to pieces. One can say that formerly when a man
reached the age of twenty or thirty, he did not carry despicable
things in his heart, and thus neither did such words appear. If
an elder unwittingly said something of that sort, he thought of it
as a sort of injury. This new custom probably appears because
people attach importance to being beautiful before society and
to household finances. What things a person should be able
to accomplish if he had no haughtiness concerning his place in
It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so
contriving and so proud of their material possessions. Men with
contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will
have no selfrespect.
According to Master lttei, even a poor penman will become
substantial in the art of calligraphy if he studies by imitating a
good model and puts forth effort. A retainer should be able to
become substantial too, if he takes a good retainer as his model.
Today, however, there are no models of good retainers. In
light of this, it would be good to make a model and to learn
from that. To do this, one should look at many people and
choose from each person his best point only. For example, one
person for politeness, one for bravery, one for the proper way
of speaking, one for correct conduct and one for steadiness of
mind. Thus will the model be made.
An apprentice will not be up to his teacher's good points in
the world of the arts either but will receive and imitate only his
bad ones. This is worthless. There are people who are good
at manners but have no uprightness. In imitating someone like
this, one is likely to ignore the politeness and imitate only the
lack of uprightness. If one perceives a person's good points, he
will have a model teacher for anything.
When delivering something like an important letter or other
written materials, grasp it firmly in your hand as you go and do
not release it once, but hand it over directly to the recipient.
A retainer is a man who remains consistently undistracted
twenty-four hours a day, whether he is in the presence of his
master or in public. If one is careless during his rest period, the
public will see him as being only careless.
Regardless of class, a person who does something beyond
his social standing will at some point commit mean or cowardly
acts. In the lower classes there are even people who will run
away. One should be careful with menials and the like.
There are many people who, by being attached to a martial
art and taking apprentices, believe that they have arrived at
the full stature of a warrior. But it is a regrettable thing to put
forth much effort and in the end become an "artist." In artistic
technique it is good to learn to the extent that you will not be
lacking. In general, a person who is versatile in many things is
considered to be vulgar and to have only a broad knowledge of
matters of importance.
When something is said to you by the master, whether it
is for your good or bad fortune, to withdraw in silence shows
perplexity. You should have some appropriate response. It is
important to have resolution beforehand.
Moreover, if at the time that you are asked to perform some
function you have deep happiness or great pride, it will show
exactly as that on your face. This has been seen in many people
and is rather unbecoming. But another type of person knows
his own defects and thinks, "I'm a clumsy person but I've been
asked to do this thing anyway. Now how am I going to go about
it? I can see that this is going to be much trouble and cause for
concern." Though these words are never said, they will appear
on the surface. This shows modesty.
By inconsistency and frivolity we stray from the Way and
show ourselves to be beginners. In this we do much harm.
Learning is a good thing, but more often it leads to mistakes.
It is like the admonition of the priest Konan. It is worthwhile
just looking at the deeds of accomplished persons for the pur-
pose of knowing our own insufficiencies. But often this does not
happen. For the most part, we admire our own opinions and
become fond of arguing.
Last year at a great conference there was a certain man who
explained his dissenting opinion and said that he was resolved
to kill the conference leader if it was not accepted. His mo-
tion was passed. After the procedures were over the man said,
"Their assent came quickly. I think that they are too weak and
unreliable to be counselors to the master."
When an official place is extremely busy and someone comes
in thoughtlessly with some business or other, often there are
people who will treat him coldly and become angry. This is not
good at all. At such times, the etiquette of a samurai is to calm
himself and deal with the person in a good manner. To treat a
person harshly is the way of middle class lackeys.
According to the situation, there are times when you must
rely on a person for something or other. If this is done repeat-
edly, it becomes a matter of importuning that person and can
be rather rude. If there is something that must be done, it is
better not to rely on others.
There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When
meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to pet wet and run
quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under
the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved
from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still
get the same soaking. This understanding extends to every-
In China there was once a man who liked pictures of dragons,
and his clothing and furnishings were all designed accordingly.
His deep affection for dragons was brought to the attention of
the dragon god, and one day a real dragon appeared before his
window. It is said that he died of fright. He was probably a man
who always spoke big words but acted differently when facing
the real thing.
There was a certain person who was a master of the spear.
When he was dying, he called his best disciple and spoke his
I have passed on to you all the secret techniques of this
school, and there is nothing left to say. If you think of taking
on a disciple yourself, then you should practice diligently with
the bamboo sword every day. Superiority is not just a matter
of secret techniques.
Also, in the instructions of a renga teacher, it was said that
the day before the poetry meeting one should calm his mind
and look at a collection of poems . This is concentration on one
affair. All professions should be done with concentration .
Although the Mean is the standard for all things, in military
affairs a man must always strive to outstrip others. According
to archery instructions the right and left hands are supposed
to be level, but the right hand has a tendency to go higher.
They will become level if one will lower the right hand a bit
when shooting. In the stories of the elder warriors it is said
that on the battlefield if one wills himself to outstrip warriors
of accomplishment, and day and night hopes to strike down a
powerful enemy, he will grow indefatigable and fierce of heart
and will manifest courage. One should use this principle in
everyday affairs too.
There is a way of bringing up the child of a samurai. From
the time of infancy one should encourage bravery and avoid triv-
ially frightening or teasing the child. If a person is affected by
cowardice as a child, it remains a lifetime scar. It is a mistake for
parents to thoughtlessly make their children dread lightning, or
to have them not go into dark places, or to tell them frightening
things in order to stop them from crying.
Furthermore, a child will become timid if he is scolded severely.
One should not allow bad habits to form. After a bad habit is
ingrained, although you admonish the child he will not improve.
As for such things as proper speaking and good manners, grad-
ually make the child aware of them. Let him not know avarice.
Other than that, if he is of a normal nature, he should develop
well by the way he is brought up.
Moreover, the child of parents who have a bad relationship
will be unfilial. This is natural. Even the birds and beasts
are affected by what they are used to seeing and hearing from
the time they are born. Also, the relationship between father
and child may deteriorate because of a mother's foolishness. A
mother loves her child above all things, and will be partial to the
child that is corrected by his father. If she becomes the child's
ally, there will be discord between father and son. Because of the
shallowness of her mind, a woman sees the child as her support
in old age.
You will be tripped up by people when your resolution is
lax. Moreover, if at a meeting you are distracted while an-
other person is speaking, by your carelessness you may think
that he is of your opinion and you will follow along saying, "Of
course, of course," even though he is saying something that is
contrary to your own feelings, and others will think that you
are in agreement with him. Because of this, you should never
be distracted even for an instant when meeting with others.
When you are listening to a story or being spoken to, you
should be mindful not to be tripped up ; and if there is some-
thing that you do not agree with, to speak your mind, to show
your opponent his error, and to grapple with the situation. Even
in unimportant affairs mistakes come from little things. One
should be mindful of this. Moreover, it is better not to become
acquainted with men about whom you have formerly had some
doubts. No matter what you do, they will be people by whom
you will be tripped up or taken in, To be certain of this fact you
must have much experience.
The saying, "The arts aid the body," is for samurai of other
regions. For samurai of the Nabeshima clan the arts bring ruin
to the body. In all cases, the person who practices an art is an
artist, not a samurai, and one should have the intention of being
called a samurai.
When one has the conviction that even the slightest artful
ability is harmful to the samurai, all the arts become useful to
him. One should understand this sort of thing.
Ordinarily, looking into the mirror and grooming oneself is
sufficient for the upkeep of one's personal appearance. This
is very important. Most people's personal appearance is poor
because they do not look into the mirror well enough.
Training to speak properly can be done by correcting one's
speech when at home.
Practice in letter writing goes to the extent of taking care in
even one-line letters.
It is good if all the above contain a quiet strength. Moreover,
according to what the priest Ryozan heard when he was in the
Kamgala area, when one is writing a letter, he should think that
the recipient will make it into a hanging scroll.
It is said that one should not hesitate to correct himself
when he has made a mistake. If he corrects himself without
the least bit of delay, his mistakes will quickly disappear. But
when he tries to cover up a mistake, it will become all the more
unbecoming and painful. When words that one should not use
slip out, if one will speak his mind quickly and clearly, those
words will have no effect and he will not be obstructed by worry.
If there is, however, someone who blames a person for such a
thing, one should be prepared to say something like, "I have
explained the reason for my careless speech. There is nothing
else to be done if you will not listen to reason. Since I said
it unwittingly, it should be the same as if you didn't hear it.
No one can evade blame." And one should never talk about
people or secret matters. Furthermore, one should only speak
according to how he judges his listener's feelings.
The proper manner of calligraphy is nothing other than not
being careless, but in this way one's writing will simply be slug-
gish and stiff. One should go beyond this and depart from the
norm. This principle applies to all things.
It is said, "When you would see into a person's heart, become
ill." When you are sick or in difficulties, many of those who were
friendly or close to you in daily life will become cowards. When-
ever anyone is in unhappy circumstances, you should above all
inquire after them by visiting or sending some gift. And you
should never in your whole life be negligent toward someone
from whom you have received a favor.
By such things the consideration of others can be seen. In
this world the people who will rely on others when they are in
difficulties and afterwards not give them a thought are many .
You cannot tell whether a person is good or bad by his vicis-
situdes in life. Good and bad fortune are matters of fate. Good
and bad actions are Man's Way. Retribution of good and evil is
taught simply as a moral lesson.
Because of some business, Morooka Hikoemon was called
upon to swear before the gods concerning the truth of a certain
matter. But he said, "A samurai's word is harder than metal.
Since I have impressed this fact upon myself, what more can the
gods and Buddhas do?" and the swearing was cancelled. This
happened when he was twenty-six.
Master lttei said, "Whatever one prays for will be granted.
Long ago there were no matsutake mushrooms in our province.
Some men who saw them in the Kamigata area prayed that
they might grow here, and nowadays they are growing all over
Kitagama. In the future I would like to have Japanese cypress
grow in our province. As this is something that everyone desires,
I predict it for the future. This being so, everyone should pray
When something out of the ordinary happens, it is ridiculous
to say that it is a mystery or a portent of something to come.
Eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, clouds that flutter like
flags, snow in the fifth month, lightning in the twelfth month,
and so on, are all things that occur every fifty or one hundred
years. They occur according to the evolution of Yin and Yang.
The fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west would
be a mystery, too, if it were not an everyday occurrence.
It is not dissimilar. Furthermore, the fact that something
bad always happens in the world when strange phenomena oc-
cur is due to people seeing something like fluttering clouds and
thinking that something is going to happen. The mystery is cre-
ated in their minds, and by waiting for the disaster, it is from
their very minds that it occurs. The occurrence of mysteries is
always by word of mouth.
Calculating people are contemptible. The reason for this is
that calculation deals with loss and pain, and the loss and gain
mind never stops. Death is considered loss and life is considered
gain. Thus, death is something that such a person does not care
for, and he is contemptible.
Furthermore, scholars and their like are men who with wit
and speech hide their own true cowardice and greed. People
often misjudge this.
Lord Naoshige said, "The Way of the Samurai is in desper-
ateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man. Common
sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become insane
and desperate.' "In the Way of the Samurai, if one uses dis-
crimination, he will fall behind. One needs neither loyalty nor
devotion, but simply to become desperate in the Way. Loyalty
and devotion are of themselves within desperation."
The saying of Shida Kichinosuke, "When there is a choice of
cither living or dying, as long as there remains nothing behind
to blemish one's reputation, it is better to live," is a paradox. He
also said, "When there is a choice of either going or not going, it
is better not to go." A corollary to this would he, "When there
is a choice of either eating or not eating, it is better not to eat.
When there is a choice of either dying or not dying, it is better
When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not
enough to simply say that one is not at all flustered. When
meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely
and with joy. It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the
saying, "The more the water, the higher the boat."
It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain to that which
you have seen and heard the masters attain. The masters are
men. You are also a man. If you think that you will be inferior
in doing something, you will be on that road very soon. Master
lttei said, "Confucius was a sage because he had the will to
become a scholar when he was fifteen years old. He was not
a sage because he studied later on." This is the same as the
Buddhist maxim, "First intention, then enlightenment."
A warrior should be careful in all things and should dislike
to be the least bit worsted. Above all, if he is not careful in
his choice of words he may say things like, "I'm a coward," or
"At that time I'd probably run," or "How frightening," or "How
painful." These are words that should not be said even in jest,
on a whim, or when talking in one's sleep. If a person with
understanding hears such things, he will see to the bottom of
the speaker's heart. This is something that should be carefully
thought about beforehand.
When one's own attitude on courage is fixed in his heart,
and when his resolution is devoid of doubt, then when the time
comes he will of necessity be able to choose the right move.
This will be manifested by one's conduct and speech according
to the occasion. One's word is especially important. It is not
for exposing the depths of one's heart. This is something that
people will know by one's everyday affairs.
After I took up the attitude of a retainer, I never sat sloppily
whether at home or in some other place. Neither did I speak, but
if there was something that could not be done properly without
words, I made an effort to settle things by putting ten words
into one. Yamazaki Kurando was like this.
It is said that even after one's head has been cut off, he can
still perform some function. This fact can be known from the
examples of Nitta Yoshisada and Ono Doken. How shall one
man be inferior to another? Mitani Jokyu said, "Even if a man
be sick to death, he can bear up for two or three days."
In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions
within the space of seven breaths. Lord Takanobu said, "If dis-
crimination is long, it will spoil." Lord Naoshige said, "When
matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly.
A warrior is a person who does things quickly."
When your mind is going hither and thither, discrimination
will never be brought to a conclusion. With an intense, fresh
and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgments within the
space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and
having the spirit to break right through to the other side.
In admonishing the master, if one is not of the proper rank
to do so, it shows great loyalty to have someone who is of that
rank speak and have the master correct his mistakes. To be on
a footing to do this one must be on cordial terms with everyone.
If one does this for his own sake, it is simply flattery. One does
this, rather, in his concern to support the clan on his own. If
one will do it, it can be done.
Bad relations between retired and present rulers, father and
son, and elder and younger brothers develop from selfish mo-
tives. The proof of this is that there are no such bad rela- tions
between master and retainer.
It is unthinkable to be disturbed at something like being or-
dered to become a ronin. People at the time of Lord Katsushigc
used to say, "If one has not been a ronin at least seven times, he
will not be a true retainer. Seven times down, eight times up."
Men like Narutomi Hyogo have been ronin seven times. One
should understand that it is something like being a self- righting
doll. The master is also apt to give such orders as a test.
Illnesses and the like become serious because of one's feelings.
I was born when my father was seventy-one years old and was
hence a rather sickly child. But because I have had the great
desire to be of use even in old age, when the chance came I
improved my health and haven't been sick since.
And I have abstained from sex and have consistently taken
moxa cautery. There are things that I feel have definitely had
There is a saying that even though one burns up a mamushi
seven times, it will return each time to its original form. This is
my great hope. I have always been obsessed with one idea: to
be able to realize my heart's desire, which is that, though I am
born seven times, each time I will be reborn as a retainer of my
Yamamoto Jin'emon once said that it is best for a samurai
to have good retainers. Military affairs are not matters for one
person alone, regardless of how useful he tries to be. Money is
something that one can borrow from people, but a good man
cannot suddenly be come by. One should sustain a man kindly
and well from the first. And in having retainers it will not do
to nourish oneself alone. If you divide what you have and feed
your lower ranks, you will be able to hold good men.
A person with a bit of wisdom is one who will criticize the
times. This is the basis of disaster. A person who is discreet
in speaking will be useful during the good times and will avoid
punishment during the bad.
Being superior to others is nothing other than having people
talk about your affairs and listening to their opinions. The
general run of people settle for their own opinions and thus
never excel. Having a discussion with a person is one step in
excelling him, A certain person discussed with me the written
materials at the clan office. He is better than someone like me
in writing and researching. In seeking correction from others,
you excel them.
It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look
for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same
for anything that is called a Way. Therefore, it is inconsistent
to hear something of the Way of Confucius or the Way of the
Buddha, and say that this is the Way of the Samurai. If one
understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear
about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own.
For a samurai, a simple word is important no matter where
he may be. By just one single word martial valor can be made
apparent. In peaceful times words show one's bravery. In trou-
bled times, too, one knows that by a single word his strength or
cowardice can be seen. This single word is the flower of one's
heart. It is not something said simply with one's mouth.
A warrior should not say something fainthearted even casu-
ally. He should set his mind to this beforehand. Even in trifling
matters the depths of one's heart can be seen.
No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done.
If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and
earth as he pleases. But because man is pluckless, he cannot set
his mind to it. Moving heaven and earth without putting forth
effort is simply a matter of concentration.
A person who is said to be proficient at the arts is like a
fool. Because of his foolishness in concerning himself with just
one thing, he thinks of nothing else and thus becomes proficient.
He is a worthless person.
Until the age of forty it is best to gather strength. It is
appropriate to have settled down by the age of fifty.
When discussing things with someone, it is best to speak
appropriately about whatever the subject may be. No matter
how good what you are saying might be, it will dampen the
conversation if it is irrelevant.
When someone is giving you his opinion, you should receive
it with deep gratitude even though it is worthless. If you don't,
he will not tell you the things that he has seen and heard about
you again. It is best to both give and receive opinions in a
There is a saying that great genius matures late. If some-
thing is not brought to fruition over a period of twenty to thirty
years, it will not be of great merit. When a retainer is of a
mind to do his work hurriedly, he will intrude upon the work of
others and will be said to be young but able. He will become
over-enthusiastic and will be considered rather rude. He will put
on the airs of someone who has done great works, will become
a flatterer and insincere, and will be talked about behind his
back. In the pursuit of one's development, if he does not make
great effort and is not supported by others in his advancement
in the world, he will be of no use.
When one is involved in the affairs of a warrior such as being
a kaishaku or making an arrest within one's own clan or group,
people will notice when the time comes if he has resolved before-
hand that no one can take his place. One should always take the
attitude of standing above others in martial valor, always feel
that he is inferior to no one, and always cultivate his courage.
When on the battlefield, if you try not to let others take
the lead and have the sole intention of breaking into the enemy
lines, then you will not fall behind others, your mind will become
fierce, and you will manifest martial valor. This fact has been
passed down by the elders. Furthermore, if you are slain in
battle, you should be resolved to have your corpse facing the
If everyone were in accord and left things to Providence,
their hearts would be at ease. If they are not in accord, though
they would do acts of righteousness, they lack loyalty. To be at
odds with one's companions, to be prone to miss even infrequent
meetings, to speak only cantankerous words — all come from a
shallow foolishness of mind. But thinking of the moment of
truth, even though it be unpleasant, one should fix it in his mind
to meet people cordially at all times and without distraction,
and in a way in which one will not seem bored. Moreover, in
this world of uncertainties one is not even sure of the present. It
would be worthless to die while being thought ill of by people.
Lies and insincerity are unbecoming. This is because they are
Though it is not profitable to have others lead the way, or
not to be quarrelsome, or not to be lacking in manners, or to be
humble, if one will do things for the benefit of others and meet
even those whom he has met often before in a first-time manner,
he will have no bad relationships. Manners between husband
and wife are not different from this. If one is as discreet in the
end as he is in the beginning, there should be no discord.
There is a certain priest who is said to be able to get every-
thing accomplished by means of his cleverness. There is not a
monk in japan today who can oppose him. This is not the least
bit strange. There is simply no one who sees through to the
foundation of things.
Senility is when one goes about doing only that towards
which he is most inclined. One is able to suppress and hide
this while his vigor is still strong, but when he weakens, the
essential strong points of his nature appear and are a shame to
him. This manifests itself in several forms, but there is not a
man who does not get senile by the time he reaches sixty. And
when one thinks that he will not be senile, he is already so, It can
be thought that Master lttei had a senility of argumentation. As
if to show that he alone could support the House of Nabeshima,
he went about with a senile appearance to prominent people's
houses and chatted amiably with them. At the time, everybody
thought that it was reasonable, but thinking about it now, it
was senility. For myself, with that good example and the feeling
that dotage was overtaking me, I declined to participate at the
temple on the thirteenth anniversary of Lord Mitsushige's death,
and I have decided to stay more and more indoors. One must
get a clear view of what lies ahead.
If one is but secure at the foundation, he will not be pained
by departure from minor details or affairs that are contrary to
expectation. But in the end, the details of a matter are im-
portant. The right and wrong of one's way of doing things are
found in trivial matters.
According to a story at the Ryutaiji, there was a master of
the Book of Changes in the Kamigata area who said that even if
a man is a priest, it is useless to give him rank while he is under
the ape of forty. This is because he will make many mistakes.
Confucius was not the only man to become unperplexed after
reaching the age of forty. Upon reaching the age of forty, both
wise and foolish have gone through an appropriate amount of
experience and will no longer be perplexed .
Concerning martial valor, merit lies more in dying for one's
master than in striking down the enemy. This can be understood
from the devotion of Sate Tsugunobu.
When I was young, I kept a "Dairy of Regret" and tried to
record my mistakes day by day, but there was never a day when
I didn't have twenty or thirty entries. As there was no end to
it, I gave up. Even today, when I think about the day's affairs
after going to bed, there is never a day when I do not make
some blunder in speaking or in some activity. Living without
mistakes is truly impossible. But this is something that people
who live by cleverness have no inclination to think about.
When reading something aloud, it is best to read from the
belly. Reading from one's mouth, one's voice will not endure.
This is Nakano Shikibu's teaching.
During happy times, pride and extravagance are dangerous.
If one is not prudent in ordinary times, he will not be able to
catch up. A person who advances during good times will falter
during the bad.
Master lttei said, "In calligraphy it is progress when the pa-
per, brush and ink are in harmony." Yet they are so wont to be
The master took a book from its box. When he opened it
there was the smell of drying clovebuds.
What is called generosity is really compassion. In the Shin'ci
it is written, "Seen from the eye of compassion, there is no one
to be disliked. One who has sinned is to be pitied all the more."
There is no limit to the breadth and depth of one's heart. There
is room enough for all. That we still worship the sages of the
three ancient kingdoms is because their compassion reaches us
Whatever you do should be done for the sake of your master
and parents, the people in general, and for posterity. This is
great compassion. The wisdom and courage that come from
compassion are real wisdom and courage. When one punishes
or strives with the heart of compassion, what he does will be
limitless in strength and correctness. Doing something for one's
own sake is shallow and mean and turns into evil. I understood
the matters of wisdom and courage some time ago. I am just
now beginning to understand the matter of compassion.
Lord Ieyasu said, "The foundation for ruling the country in
peace is compassion, for when one thinks of the people as be-
ing his children, the people will think of him as their parent."
Moreover, can't it be thought that the names "group parent" and
"group child" [i.e., group leader and member] are so called be-
cause they are attached to each other by the harmonious hearts
of a parent-child relationship?
One can understand that Lord Naoshige's phrase, "A fault-
finder will come to be punished by others," came from his com-
passion. His saying, "Principle is beyond reason," should also
be considered compassion. He enthusiastically stated that we
should taste the inexhaustible.
The priest Tannen said, "A clever retainer will not advance.
However, there are no cases of stupid people coming up in the
This was Nakano Shikibu's opinion.
When one is young, he can often bring on shame for a life-
time by homosexual acts. To have no understanding of this
is dangerous. As there is no one to inform young men of this
matter, I can give its general outline.
One should understand that a woman is faithful to only one
husband. Our feelings go to one person for one lifetime. If this
is not so, it is the same as sodomy or prostitution. This is shame
for a warrior. Ihara Saikaku has written a famous line that goes,
"An adolescent without an older lover is the same as a woman
with no husband." But this sort of person is ridiculous.
A young man should test an older man for at least five years,
and if he is assured of that person's intentions, then he too
should request the relationship. A fickle person will not enter
deeply into a relationship and later will abandon his lover.
If they can assist and devote their lives to each other, then
their nature can be ascertained. But if one partner is crooked,
the other should say that there are hindrances to the relationship
and sever it with firmness. If the first should ask what those
hindrances are, then one should respond that he will never in
his life say. If he should continue to push the matter, one should
get angry ; if he continues to push even further, cut him down.
Furthermore, the older man should ascertain the younger's
real motives in the aforementioned way. If the younger man can
devote himself and pet into the situation for five or six years,
then it will not be unsuitable.
Above all, one should not divide one's way into two. One
should strive in the Way of the Samurai.
Hoshino Ryotetsu was the progenitor of homosexuality in
our province, and although it can be said that his disciples were
many, he instructed each one individually. Edayoshi Saburoza-
emon was a man who understood the foundation of homosex-
uality. Once, when accompanying his master to ado, Ryotetsu
asked Saburozaemon, "What have you understood of homosex-
Saburozaemon replied, "It is something both pleasant and
Ryotetsu was pleased and said, "You have taken great pains
for some time to be able to say such a thing."
Some years later there was a person who asked Saburozae-
men the meaning of the above. He replied, "To lay down one's
life for another is the basic principle of homosexuality. If it
is not so, it becomes a matter of shame. However, then you
have nothing left to lay down for your master. It is therefore
understood to be something both pleasant and unpleasant."
Master lttei said, ' 'If one were to say what it is to do good,
in a single word it would be to endure suffering. Not enduring
is bad without exception."
Until one reaches the ape of forty it is better to put off
wisdom and discrimination and excel in vitality. According to
the person and the rank, though a person has passed the age of
forty, if he has no vitality, he will pet no response from others.
Recently, a certain person on his way to Edo sent home a
detailed letter from the first night's inn. Though he was a person
who neglected such things when he was busy, he excelled other
people in being as attentive as this.
In the judgment of the elders, a samurai's obstinacy should
be excessive. A thing done with moderation may later be judged
to be insufficient. I have heard that when one thinks he has gone
too far, he will not have erred. This sort of rule should not be
When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it
will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead,
it will not do to think about going at it in a long roundabout
way. One's heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by
and large there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is
one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. When
a certain man was going to the sutra readings at the Jissoin
in Kawakami, one of his pages got drunk on the ferryboat and
began to pester one of the sailors. When they landed on the
other side, as the page had drawn his sword, the sailor took
a pole and struck him on the head. At that time the other
sailors all ran up together carrying oars and were at the point
of striking the page down. However, as the master passed by
with an air of not knowing what was happening, one of the other
pages ran back and apologized to the sailors. Then, pacifying
his comrade, he accompanied him home. That night the page
who had been drunk learned that his sword was being taken
away from him.
Now, first of all, it was an insufficiency on the master's part
not to have reproved and pacified the drunken page while they
were on the boat. Furthermore, even though his page had acted
unreasonably, after he had been struck on the head there was
no reason for an apology. The master should have approached
the sailor and the drunken page in an apologetic manner and
cut them both down. Certainly he was a spiritless master.
The resolution of the men of former times was deep. Those
between the ages of thirteen and sixty went to the front lines.
For this reason men of advanced years hid their age.
For serious affairs that bear directly on oneself, if one does
not take care of things by making his own judgment his founda-
tion and breaking through headlong, matters will not be brought
to a close. In conferring with people about matters of impor-
tance, there may be many cases when your affair is thought
lightly of, or when people will not speak of the real circum-
stances. At such times one must use his own judgment. At any
rate, it is sufficient to become a fanatic and choose to throw
away one's life. At such a time, if one thinks about doing things
well, confusion will soon arise and he will blunder. In many
cases one's downfall may be brought about by an ally who is
trying to do something for one's benefit, or one may be killed
by his friend's kindness. It is the same as when one requests
permission to become a monk.
Lord Naoshige said, "An ancestor's good or evil can be de-
termined by the conduct of his descendants ." A descendant
should act in a way that will manifest the good in his ancestor
and not the bad. This is filial piety.
It is a wretched thing that one's family lineage be thrown into
confusion with an adoption based on money alone. Such a thing-
is immoral from the beginning, but it is extreme wickedness to
be thus immoral with the excuse that without doing so one will
be unable to afford even today's rice.
When Nakano Shogen committed seppuku, the members of
his group gathered at Oki Hyobu's place and said various bad
things about him. Hyobu said, "One does not speak bad things
about a person after his death. And especially since a person
who has received some censure is to be pitied, it is the obligation
of a samurai to speak something good of him, no matter how
little. There is no doubt that in twenty years Shogen will have
the reputation of a faithful retainer." These were truly the words
of a seasoned man.
To place one's armor out splendidly is a fine discipline, but
it is sufficient if it is simply all accounted for. Fukabori Inosuke
's armor is a good example. Men of high rank and with many
retainers will also need such things as money to set aside for
campaign use. It is said that Okabe Kunai made bags equaling
the number of men in his ;group, affixed a name to each, and
put in the appropriate amount of money for a campaign. This
sort of discipline is profound. As for men of low rank, if they
cannot make the proper preparation at the time, they should
rely on assistance from their group leader. To this extent, it
is necessary for the group leader to be on intimate terms with
his men beforehand. As for men who are under the master's
direction, and especially for those who are with him directly, it
is better to be without preparation money. At the time of the
summer maneuvers at Osaka, a certain person brought along
twelve monme of refined silver and went off with Master Taku
Zusho. This, of course, would have been fine if he had simply
ridden off early. I think that it is better to dispense with such
In carefully scrutinizing the affairs of the past, we find that
there are many different opinions about them, and that there
are some things that are quite unclear. It is better to regard
such things as unknowable. Lord Sanenori once said, "As for
the things that we don't understand, there ere ways of under-
standing them. Furthermore, there are some things we under-
stand just naturally, and again some that we can't understand
no matter how hard we try. This is interesting."
This is very profound. It is natural that one cannot un-
derstand deep and hidden things. Those things that are easily
understood are rather shallow.
It is said that
T IS SAID that much sake, self-pride and luxury are
to be avoided by a samurai, There is no cause for
anxiety when you are unhappy, but when you be-
come a little elated, these three things become dan-
gerous. Look at the human condition. It is unseemly for a per-
son to become prideful and extravagant when things are going
well. Therefore, it is better to have some unhappiness while one
is still young, for if a person does not experience some bitter-
ness, his disposition will not settle down. A person who becomes
fatigued when unhappy is useless.
Meeting with people should be a matter of quickly grasping
their temperament and reacting appropriately to this person and
that. Especially with an extremely argumentative person, after
yielding considerably one should argue him down with superior
logic, but without sounding harsh, and in a fashion that will
allow no resentment to be left afterwards. This is a function of
both the heart and words. This was an opinion given by a priest
concerning personal encounters.
Dreams are truthful manifestations. When I occasionally
have dreams of dying in battle or committing seppuku, if I brace
myself with courage, my frame of mind within the dream grad-
This concerns the dream I had on the night of the twenty-
seventh day of the fifth month.
If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a
samurai is, its basis lies first in seriously devoting one's body
and soul to his master. And if one is asked what to do be-
yond this, it would be to fit oneself inwardly with intelligence,
humanity and courage.' The combining of these three virtues
may seem unobtainable to the ordinary person, but it is easy.
Intelligence is nothing more than discussing things with others.
Limitless wisdom comes from this. Humanity is something done
for the sake of others, simply comparing oneself with them and
putting them in the fore. Courage is gritting one' s teeth ; it
is simply doing that and pushing ahead, paying no attention to
the circumstances. Anything that seems above these three is
not necessary to be known.
As for outward aspects, there are personal appearance, one's
way of speaking and calligraphy. And as all of these are daily
matters, they improve by constant practice. Basically, one should
perceive their nature to be one of quiet strength. If one has ac-
complished all these things, then he should have a knowledge
of our area's history and customs. After that he may study the
various arts as recreation. If you think it over, being a retainer
is simple. And these days, if you observe people who are even a
bit useful, you will see that they have accomplished these three
A certain priest said that if one thoughtlessly crosses a river
of unknown depths and shallows, he will die in its currents with-
out ever reaching the other side or finishing his business. This
is the same as when one is indiscriminately eager in being a re-
tainer without understanding the customs of the times or the
likes and dislikes of the master and, as a result, is of no use and
brings ruin upon himself. To try to enter the good graces of the
master is unbecoming. One should consider first stepping back
and getting some understanding of the depths and shallows and
then work without doing anything the master dislikes.
If you attach a number of bags of cloves to your body, you
will not be affected by inclemency or colds. Some years ago
Nakano Kazuma returned to this province as a messenger by
horse in the dead of winter, and though he was an old man, he
was not the least bit in pain. It is said that that was because
of his having used cloves. Furthermore, drinking a decoction of
the feces from a dappled horse is the way to stop bleeding from
an injury received by falling off a horse.
A faultless person is one who withdraws from affairs. This
must be done with strength.
There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the
present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment
after moment. If one fully understands the present moment,
there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue.
Live being true to the single purpose of the moment .
Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it
as though he thought it were somewhere else. No one seems
to have noticed this fact. But grasping this firmly, one must
pile experience upon experience. And once one has come to this
understanding he will be a different person from that point on,
though he may not always bear it in mind.
When one understands this settling into single-mindedness
well, his affairs will thin out. Loyalty is also contained within
this single- mindedness.
It is said that what is called "the spirit of an ape' ' is seine-
thing to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually
dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. In the same
way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single
day, too, is the same.
For this reason, although one would like to change today's
world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it
cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of
every generation. This is the mistake of people who are attached
to past generations. They have no understanding of this point.
On the other hand, people who only know the disposition of
the present day and dislike the ways of the past are too lax.
Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction.
Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else,
but go to the extent of living single thought by single thought.
The brave men of old times were for the most part rowdies.
As they were of the disposition to be out running amuck, their
vitality was strong and they were brave. When I had doubts
about this and asked, Tsunetomo said, "It is understandable that
since their vitality was strong they were generally rough and
went about running amuck. These days rowdiness is nonexistent
because man's vitality has weakened. Vitality has fallen behind,
but man's character has improved. Valor is yet a different thing.
Although men have become gentle these days because of the lack
of vitality, this does not mean that they are inferior in being
crazy to die. That has nothing to do with vitality."
Concerning the military tactics of Lord Naoshige, Ushida
Shoemon said that it was characteristic of his retainers to face
a situation with no previous knowledge of what was to happen,
and for him to freely bring everything to a finish by a single
word. When he was at the point of passing from this world, he
said nothing, even when his chief retainers came to see him.
Once Lord Ieyasu gamed nothing in a battle, but in a later
judgment it was said, "Ieyasu is a general of great courage. Of
his retainers who died in battle, not one of them died with his
back turned. They all died facing the enemy lines." Since a
warrior's daily frame of mind is manifested even after death, it
is something that can bring shame to him.
As Yasuda Ukyo said about offering up the last wine cup,
only the end of things is important. One's whole life should
be like this. When guests are leaving, the mood of being re-
luctant to say farewell is essential. If this mood is lacking, one
will appear bored and the day and evening's conversation will
disappear. In all dealings with people it is essential to have a
fresh approach. One should constantly give the impression that
he is doing something exceptional. It is said that this is possible
with but a little understanding.
Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness. Ex-
isting where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase, "Form
is emptiness." That all things are provided for by nothingness
is the meaning of the phrase, "Emptiness is form.'" One should
not think that these are two separate things.
Uesugi Kcnshin said, "I never knew about winning from be-
ginning to end, but only about not being behind in a situation."
This is interesting. A retainer will be dumbfounded if he is be-
hind in a situation. In each and every instance one's function
or responsiveness will not be shallow if he is not behind.
One should be wary of talking on end about such subjects
as learning, morality or folklore in front of elders or people of
rank. It is disagreeable to listen to.
In the Kamigata area they have a sort of tiered lunch box
they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning,
they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. As might be
expected, this is one of my recollections of the capital [Kyoto].
The end is important in all things.
While walking along the road together, Tsunetomo said, "Is
not man like a well-operated puppet? It is a piece of dexterous
workmanship that he can run, jump, leap, and even talk though
there are no strings attached. Will we not be guests at next
year's Ben Festival? This world is vanity indeed. People always
It was once said to one of the young lords that "right now" is
"at that time, " and "at that time" is "right now." One will miss
the occasion if he thinks that these two are different. For exam-
ple, if one were called before the master to explain something
right away, he would most likely be perplexed. This is proof
that he understands the two to be different. If, however, a per-
son makes "right now" and "at that time" one, though he will
never be an advisor to the master, still he is a retainer, and in
order to be able to say something clearly, whether it be in front
of the master, the elders or even the shogun at Edo Castle, it
should be practiced beforehand in the corner of one's bedroom.
All things are like this. Accordingly, one should inquire into
things carefully. It is the same for martial training as for offi-
cial business. When one attempts to concentrate things in this
manner, won't daily negligence and today's lack of resolve be
Even though one has made some blunder in governmental
work, it can probably be excused by pleading clumsiness or in-
experience. But what kind of excuse may be given for the failure
of the men who were involved in this recent unexpected event?"
Master Jin'emon always used to say, "It is enough if a warrior is
simply a stalwart," and this is just such a case. If one felt that
such a failure were a mortification, it would be the least he could
do to cut open his stomach, rather than live on in shame with
a burning in his breast and the feeling that he had no place to
go, and, as his luck as a warrior had run out, he was no longer
able to function quickly and had been given a bad name. But if
one regretted losing his life and reasoned that he should live be-
cause such a death would be useless, then for the next five, ten
or twenty years of his life, he would be pointed at from behind
and covered with shame. After his death his corpse would be
smeared with disgrace, his guiltless descendants would receive
his dishonor for having been born in his line, his ancestors' name
would be dragged down, and all the members of his family would
be blemished. Such circumstances are truly regrettable.
If one has no earnest daily intention, does not consider what
it is to be a warrior even in his dreams, and lives through the
day idly, he can be said to be worthy of punishment.
Presumably it can be said that a man who has been cut
down was lacking in ability and had run out of luck as a war-
rior. The man who cut him down, compelled by unavoidable cir-
cumstances and feeling that there was nothing else to be done,
also put his life on the line, and thus there should be no evi-
dence of cowardice. Being short-tempered is inappropriate, but
it cannot be said that two men who face each other are cowards.
In this recent event, however, the men who lived and covered
themselves with shame were not true warriors.
One should every day think over and make an effort to im-
plant in his mind the saying, "At that time is right now." It is
said that it is strange indeed that anyone is able to pass through
life by one means or another in negligence. Thus, the Way of
the Samurai is, morning after morning, the practice of death,
considering whether it will be here or be there, imagining the
most slightly way of dying, and putting one's mind firmly in
death. Although this may be a most difficult thing, if one will
do it, it can be done. There is nothing that one should suppose
cannot be done.
Moreover, the influence of words is important in military
affairs. It would have been best for stopping the man in this
recent event, too. When the situation is too much, one may
cither cut the man down, or, if the man is escaping, yell some-
thing like, "Don't run I Only cowards run !" and thus, according
to what the situation demands, achieve one's goals by the in-
fluence of words. There was a certain man who was said to be
good at judging men's dispositions and formerly had everyone's
attention, and he was able to handle such cases. This is proof
that "right now" is no different from "when the time comes."
The position of yokoza no yari is another example of this.* It is
something that should be made one's aim beforehand.
The things to be deeply considered beforehand are many. If
there is someone who has killed a man in the lord's mansion and
has managed to escape, as one does not know whether he may
still be swinging his sword and advancing toward the room next
to the lord's, he should cut the man down. Indeed, one may be
blamed later in an investigation as a confederate of the killer, or
as someone who had a grudge against him. But at that time one
should think only of cutting the man down and not anticipate
Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be
able to do one more action with certainty. The last moments of
Nitta Yoshisada are proof of this. Had his spirit been weak, he
would have fallen the moment his head was severed. Recently,
there is the example of Ono Dokcn. These actions occurred
because of simple determination. With martial valor, if one
becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination,
though his head is cut off, he should not die.
Whether people be of high or low birth, rich or poor, old or
young, enlightened or confused, they are all alike in that they
will one day die. It is not that we don't know that we are going
to die, but we grasp at straws. While knowing that we will die
someday, we think that all the others will die before us and that
we will be the last to go. Death seems a long way oft.
Is this not shallow thinking? It is worthless and is only a joke
within a dream. It will not do to think in such a way and be
negligent. Insofar as death is always at one's door, one should
make sufficient effort and act quickly.
It is good to carry some powdered rouge in one's sleeve. It
may happen that when one is sobering up or waking from sleep,
his complexion may be poor. At such a time it is good to take
out and apply some powdered rouge.
There are times when a person gets carried away and talks on
without thinking much. But this can be seen by observers when
one's mind is flippant and lacking truth. After such an occasion
it is best to come face to face with the truth and express it. The
truth will then be arrived at in one's own heart too. Even when
greeting someone lightly, one should consider the circumstances
and after deliberation speak in a way that will not injure the
Furthermore, if there is a person who is criticizing the Way
of the Samurai or one's own province, one should speak with
him severely, without the least bit of ceremony. One must be
resolved in advance.
Although a person who excels in an art regards others as
competitors, last year Hyodo Sachu gave up the title of Master
of Renga to Yamaguchi Shochin. A praiseworthy act.
The priest Tannen used to hang up wind-bells but said, "It's
not because I like the sound. I hang them in order to know the
wind conditions in the event of fire, for that is the only worry in
having a large temple." When the wind blew, he himself walked
about at night. Throughout his whole life the fire in his brazier
was never out, and he always put a paper lantern and lighter by
his pillow. He said, ' 'People are flustered during an emergency,
and there is no one to quickly strike a light."
If one makes a distinction between public places and one's
sleeping quarters, or between being on the battlefield and on
the tatami, when the moment comes there will not be time for
making amends. There is only the matter of constant awareness.
If it were not for men who demonstrate valor on the tatami, one
could not find them on the battlefield either.
Bravery and cowardice are not things that can be conjec-
tured in times of peace. They are in different categories.
Though it may be said that the gods dislike impurity, if
one thinks a bit, he will see that he has not been negligent in
his daily worship. Thus, one's previous faithfulness has been
exactly for the sake of praying for good fortune in such times as
when one is barbed in blood and climbing over the dead. At such
a time, if it is a god that turns back when one is defiled, then
one should know clearly that praying is ineffective and should
worship regardless of defilement.
At times of great trouble or disaster, one word will suffice.
At times of happiness, too, one word will be enough. And when
meeting or talking with others, one word will do. One should
think well and then speak. This is clear and firm, and one
should learn it with no doubts. It is a matter of putting forth
one's whole effort and having the correct attitude previously.
This is very difficult to explain but is something that everyone
should work on in his heart. If a person has not learned this in
his heart, it is not likely that he will understand it.
Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing
the things that you like. It is foolish to live within this dream of
a world seeing unpleasantness and doing only things that you do
not like. But it is important never to tell this to young people as
it is something that would be harmful if incorrectly understood.
Personally, I like to sleep. And I intend to appropriately
confine myself more and more to my living quarters and pass
my life away sleeping.
I had a dream on the night of the twenty-eighth day of the
twelfth month in the third year of Shotoku. The content of the
dream changed gradually to the extent that I strengthened my
will. The condition of a person is revealed by his dreams. It
would be good to make companions of your dreams and to put
Shame and repentance are like upsetting a pot of water.
When a certain friend of mine listened to the way that a man
who had stolen his sword ornament confessed, he felt compas-
sion. If one will rectify his mistakes, their traces will soon dis-
According to what the Buddhist priest Kaion said, a person
becomes more and more prideful if he gains a little understand-
ing because he thinks he knows his own limits and weak points.
However, it is a difficult thing to truly know one's own limits
and weak points.
At a glance, every individual's own measure of dignity is
manifested just as it is. There is dignity in personal appearance.
There is dignity in a calm aspect. There is dignity in a paucity
of words. There is dignity in flawlessness of manners. There is
dignity in solemn behavior. And there is dignity in deep insight
and a clear perspective.
These are all reflected on the surface. But in the end, their
foundation is simplicity of thought and tautness of spirit.
Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out
well. When bad things happen in the world, if you look at them
comparatively, they are not unrelated to these three things.
Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that
they are not excluded from wisdom, humanity and bravery.
This is according to what Nakano Kazuma Toshiaki said.
There are people who feel that using old utensils for the Tea
Ceremony is coarse, and that it is better to use new, clean uten-
sils. There are also people who are wont to use old materials
because of their lack of gaudiness. Both are mistaken. Old
utensils, although they are things that are used by the humble,
are also used by the higher classes because of their value. Their
value is revered.
A retainer is just like this. A person rises from the humble
to the higher classes because he has value. At the same time, to
feel that a person of no family cannot do the same work as one
of higher family, or that a man who has heretofore been only a
foot soldier should not be allowed to become a leader, is entirely
wrong thinking. As for a person who has risen from the humble,
his value should be prized and especially respected, even more
than that of a person who was born into his class.
My father Jin'emon said that when he was young he was
taken from time to time to the entrance of the Chinese settle-
ment in order to be exposed to the atmosphere of the city and
to become used to people. From the time he was five years old
he was sent as family representative to various people's homes,
and in order to make him strong he was made to put on a war-
rior's straw sandals and visit the temples of his ancestors from
the time he was seven.
It is said that one will not be able to do great works if he
does not behave with some reserve towards his master, the chief
retainers and elders. What is done casually and freely will not
work out well. It is a matter of attitude.
It is unfitting that one be ignorant of the history and origins
of his clan and its retainers. But there are times when extensive
knowledge becomes a hindrance. One should use discretion.
Knowing the circumstances can be an obstruction in everyday
affairs, too. One should use discretion.
It is written that the priest Shungaku said, "In just refusing
to retreat from something one gains the strength of two men."
This is interesting. Something that is not done at that time and
at that place will remain unfinished for a lifetime. At a time
when it is difficult to complete matters with the strength of a
single man, one will bring it to a conclusion with the strength
of two. If one thinks about it later, he will be negligent all his
"Stamp quickly and pass through a wall of iron" is another
interesting phrase. To quickly break in and stamp through
directly is the first step of celerity. In connection with this,
Hideyoshi can be thought of as the only man who has grasped
solidly the chance of a lifetime since the creation of Japan.
People who talk on and on about matters of little importance
probably have some complaint in the back of their mind. But in
order to be ambiguous and to hide this they repeat what they
are saving over and over. To hear something like this causes
doubt to arise in one's breast.
One should be careful and not say things that are likely to
cause trouble at the time. When some difficulty arises in this
world, people get excited, and before one knows it the matter
is on everyone's lips. This is useless. If worse comes to worse,
you may become the subject of gossip, or at least you will have
made enemies by saying somethinp unnecessary and will have
created ill will. It is said that at such a time it is better to stay
at home and think of poetry.
To talk about other people's affairs is a great mistake. To
praise them, too, is unfttting. In any event, it is best to know
your own ability well, to put forth effort in your endeavors, and
to be discreet in speech.
The heart of a virtuous person has settled down and he does
not rush about at things. A person of little merit is not at peace
but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all.
It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When
you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell
yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we
live in is not a bit different from this.
People with intelligence will use it to fashion things both
true and false and will try to push through whatever they want
with their clever reasoning. This is injury from intelligence .
Nothing you do will have effect if you do not use truth.
In affairs like law suits or even in arguments, by losing quickly
one will lose in fine fashion. It is like sumo [wrestling]. If one
thinks only of winning, a sordid victory will be worse than a
defeat. For the most part, it becomes a squalid defeat.
Feeling deeply the difference between oneself and others,
bearing ill will and falling out with people-these things come
from a heart that lacks compassion. If one wraps up everything
with a heart of compassion, there will be no coming into conflict
A person who knows but a little will put on an air of knowl-
edpe. This is a matter of inexperience. When someone knows
something well, it will not be seen in his manner. This person
When going someplace for a talk or something similar, it is
best to let the person know ahead of time, and then go. To
go without knowing whether the other party is busy, or when
he has some particular anxiety, is awkward. There is noth-
ing that surpasses not going where you have not been invited.
Good friends are rare. Even if someone is invited somewhere,
he should use understanding. It is difficult to feel deeply the
sensitivities of people other than those who go out only rarely.
Fiascos at pleasure gatherings are numerous.
However, you should not be brusque towards a person who
has come to visit, even if you are busy.
It is bad to carry even a good thing too far. Even concerning
things such as Buddhism, Buddhist sermons, and moral lessons,
talking too much will bring harm.
The late Jin'emon said that it is better not to bring up
daughters. They are a blemish to the family name and a shame
to the parents. The eldest daughter is special, but it is better
to disregard the others.
The priest Keiho related that Lord Aki once said that martial
valor is a matter of becoming a fanatic. I thought that this
was surprisingly in accord with my own resolve and thereafter
became more and more extreme in my fanaticism.
The late Nakano Kazuma said that the original purpose of
the Tea Ceremony is to cleanse the six senses. For the eyes
there are the hanging scroll and flower arrangement. For the
nose there is the incense. For the ears there is the sound of the
hot water. For the mouth there is the taste of the tea. And
for the hands and feet there is the correctness of term. When
the five senses have thus been cleansed, the mind will of itself
be purified. The Tea Ceremony will cleanse the mind when the
mind is clogged up. I do not depart from the heart of the Tea
Ceremony for twenty-four hours a day yet this is absolutely
not a matter of tasteful living. Moreover, the tea utensils are
something that should be in accord with one's social position.
In the poem, "Under the deep snows in the last village/
Last night numerous branches of plum blossomed," the opu-
lence of the phrase "numerous branches" was changed to "a sin-
gle branch." It is said that this "single branch" contains true
When intimate friends, allies, or people who are indebted
to you have done some wrong, you should secretly reprimand
them and intervene between them and society in a good manner.
You should erase a person's bad reputation and praise him as
a matchless ally and one man in a thousand. If you wilt thus
reprimand a person in private and with good understanding,
his blemish will heal and he will become good. If you praise
a person, people's hearts will change and an ill reputation will
go away of itself. It is important to have the single purpose of
handling all things with compassion and doing things well.
A certain person said the following.
There are two kinds of dispositions, inward and outward,
and a person who is lacking in one or the other is worthless.
It is, for example, like the blade of a sword, which one should
sharpen well and then put in its scabbard, periodically taking
it out and knitting one's eyebrows as in an attack, wiping f the
blade, and then placing it in its scabbard again.
If a person has his sword out all the time, he is habitually
swinging a naked blade; people will not approach him and he
will have no allies.
If a sword is always sheathed, it will become rusty, the blade
will dull, and people will think as much of its owner.
One cannot accomplish things simply with cleverness. One
must take a broad view. It will not do to make rash judgments
concerning good and evil. However, one should not be sluggish.
It is said that one is not truly a samurai if he does not make his
decisions quickly and break right through to completion.
Once, when a group of five or six pages were traveling to the
capital together in the same boat, it happened that their boat
struck a regular ship late at night. Five or six seamen from the
ship leapt aboard and loudly demanded that the pages give up
their boat's anchor, in accord with the seaman's code. Hearing
this, the pages ran forward yelling, "The seaman's code is some-
thing for people like you! Do you think that we samurai are
going to let you take equipment from a boat carrying warriors?
We will cut you down and throw you into the sea to the last
man!" With that, all the seamen fled back to their own ship.
At such a time, one must act like a samurai. For trifling
occasions it is better to accomplish things simply by yelling. By
making something more significant than it really is and missing
one's chance, an affair will not be brought to a close and will be
no accomplishment at all.
A certain person who came up with a cash shortage when
closing out an account book sent a letter to his section leader
saying, "It is regrettable to have to commit seppuku over a mat-
ter of money. As you are my section leader, please send some
funds." Since this was reasonable, the balance was provided and
the matter was closed. It is said that even wrongdoings can be
managed without detection.
By being impatient, matters are damaged and great works
cannot be done. If one considers something not to be a matter of
time, it will be done surprisingly quickly. Times change. Think
about the world fifteen years from now. It should be rather
different, but if one were to look into a book of prophecies,
I imagine that it would not be that different. In the passing
fifteen years, not one of the useful men of today will be left.
And even if men who are young now come forth, probably less
than half will make it. Worth gradually wanes. For example,
if there were a shortage of gold, silver would become treasure,
and if there were a shortage of silver, copper would be valued.
With changing times and the waning of men's capacities, one
would be of suitable worth even if he put forth only slight effort.
Something like fifteen years is the space of a dream. If a man
but takes care of his health, in the end he will have accomplished
his purpose and will be a valuable person. Certainly in a period
when masters are many, one must put forth considerable effort.
But at the time when the world is sliding into a decline, to excel
To put forth great effort in correcting a person's bad habits
is the way it should be done. One should be like the digger
wasp. It is said that even with an adopted child, if you teach
him continually so that he will resemble you, he surely will.
If your strength is only that which comes from vitality, your
words and personal conduct will appear to be in accord with the
Way, and you will be praised by others. But when you question
yourself about this, there will be nothing to be said. The last
line of the poem that goes, "When your own heart asks," is the
secret principle of all the arts. It is said that it is a good censor.
When you are listening to the stories of accomplished men
and the like, you should listen with deep sincerity, even if it's
something about which you already know. If in listening to the
same thing ten or twenty times it happens that you come to an
unexpected understanding, that moment will be very special.
Within the tedious talk of old folks are their meritorious deeds.
Lord Naoshige once said
or a hundred years ago, of whom we know nothing and who has
no family ties with us whatsoever, and yet from a sense giri shed
When Lord Naoshige was passing by a place called Chiriku,
someone said to him, ' 'In this place there lives a man who
is over ninety years old. Since this man is so fortunate, why
>ORD Naoshige once said, "There is nothing felt quite
so deeply as giri. There are times when someone
like a cousin dies and it is not a matter of shedding
tears. But we may hear of someone who lived fifty
don't you stop and see him?" Naoshige heard this and said,
"How could anyone be more pitiful than this man? How many
of his children and grandchildren do you suppose he has seen
fall before his very eyes? Where is the good fortune in that?"
It seems that he did not stop to see the man.
When Lord Naoshige was speaking to his grandson, Lord
Motoshige, he said, "No matter whether one be of high or low
rank, a family line is something that will decline when its time
has come. If one tries to keep it from going to ruin at that time,
it will have an unsightly finish. If one thinks that the time has
come, it is best to let it go down with good grace. Doing so, he
may even cause it to be maintained."
It is said that Motoshige 's younger brother heard this from
hen Nabeshima Tadanao was fifteen years old, a
manservant in the kitchen committed some rude
act and a foot soldier was about to beat him,
S3W^@W^1 but in the end the servant cut the soldier down.
The clan elders deemed the death sentence appropriate, saying
that the man had in the first place erred in matters concerning
the ranks of men, and that he had also shed the blood of his
opponent. Tadanao heard this and said, "Which is worse, to
err in matters concerning the ranks of men or to stray from the
Way of the Samurai ?"
The elders were unable to answer. Then Tadanao said, "I
have read that when the crime itself is unclear, the punishment
should be light. Put him in confinement for a while."
Once, when Lord Katsushige was hunting at Shiroishi, he
shot a large boar. Everyone came running up to see it and
said, "Well, well. You have brought down an uncommonly large
one !" Suddenly the boar got up and dashed into their midst.
All of them fled in confusion, but Nabeshima Matabet drew
his sword and finished it off. At that point Lord Katsushige
covered his face with his sleeve and said, "It sure is dusty." This
was presumably because he did not want to see the spectacle of
his flustered men.
When Lord Katsushige was young, he was instructed by his
father, Lord Naoshige, "For practice in cutting, execute some
men who have been condemned to death." Thus, in the place
that is now within the western gate, ten men were lined up,
and Katsushige continued to decapitate one after another until
he had executed nine of them. When he came to the tenth, he
saw that the man was young and healthy and said, "I'm tired of
cutting now. I'll spare this man's life." And the man's life was
Lord Katsushige always used to say that there are four kinds
of retainers. They are the "quick, then lapping," the "lagging,
then quick," the "continually quick," and the "continually lag-
The "continually quick" are men who when given orders will
undertake their execution quickly and settle the matter well.
Fukuchi Kichizaemon and the like resemble this type.
The "lagging, then quick" are men who, though lacking in
understanding when given orders, prepare quickly and bring the
matter to a conclusion. I suppose that Nakano Kazuma and men
similar are like this.
The "quick, then lagging" are men who when given orders
seem to be going to settle things but in their preparation take
time and procrastinate. There are many people like this.
Other than these, one could say that the rest are "continually
No text exists for this Chapter.
When Lord Takanobu
hen Lord Takanobu was at the Battle of Bungo,
a messenger came from the enemy camp bearing
sake and food. Takanobu wanted to partake of
this quickly, but the men at his side stopped him,
saying, "Presents from the enemy are likely to be poisoned. This
is not something that a general should eat."
Takanobu heard them out and then said, "Even if it is poi-
soned, how much of an effect would that have on things? Call
the messenger here!" He then broke open the barrel right in
front of the messenger, drank three large cups of sake, offered
the messenger one too, gave him a reply, and sent him back to
Takagi Akifusa turned against the Ryuzoji clan, appealed
to Maeda Iyo no kami Iesada, and was sheltered by him. Aki-
fusa was a warrior of matchless valor and was an accomplished
and agile swordsman. His retainers were Ingazaemon and Fu-
dozaemon, stalwarts in no way inferior, and they left Akifusa's
side neither day nor night. Thus it happened that a request
was sent from Lord Takanobu to Iesada to kill Akifusa. At one
point, when Akifusa was seated on the veranda having Ingaza-
emon wash his feet, Iesada came running up behind him and
struck off his head, Before his head fell, Akifusa drew out his
short sword and turned to strike, but cut off Ingazaemon's head.
The two heads fell into the wash basin together. Akifusa's head
then rose into the midst of those present. This was the sort of
magic technique that he consistently had.
The priest Tannen used to say in his daily talks that: A
monk cannot fulfill the Buddhist Way if he does not manifest
compassion without and persistently store up courage within.
And if a warrior does not manifest courage on the outside and
hold enough compassion within his heart to burst his chest, he
cannot become a retainer. Therefore, the monk pursues courage
with the warrior as his model, and the warrior pursues the com-
passion of the monk.
I traveled about for many years and met men of wisdom but
never found the means to the pursuit of knowledge. Therefore,
whenever I heard of a man of courage in one place or another,
I would go and look for him regardless of the hardships on the
way. I have learned clearly that these stories of the Way of the
Samurai have been an aid on the road to Buddhism. Now a
warrior with his armor will rush into the enemy camp, making
that armor his strength. Do you suppose that a monk with a
single rosary can dash into the midst of spears and long swords,
armed with only meekness and compassion? If he does not have
great courage, he will do no dashing at all. As proof of this, the
priest offering the incense at a great Buddhist memorial service
may tremble, and this is because he has no courage.
Things like kicking a man back from the dead, or pulling
all living creatures out of hell, are all matters of courage. Nev-
ertheless, monks of recent times all entertain false ideas and
desire to become laudably gentle; there are none who complete
the Way. Furthermore, among warriors there are some cowards
who advance Buddhism. These are regrettable matters. It is
a great mistake for a young samurai to learn about Buddhism.
The reason is that he will see things in two ways. A person who
does not set himself in just one direction will be of no value at
all. It is fine for retired old men to learn about Buddhism as
a diversion, but if a warrior makes loyalty and filial piety one
load, and courage and compassion another, and carries these
twenty-four hours a day until his shoulders wear out, he will be
In one's morning and evening worship, and as one goes about
his day, he had best recite the name of his master. It is not a
bit different from the Buddha's names and holy words. Further-
more, one should be in harmony with his family gods. These
are matters of the strength of one's fate. Compassion is like a
mother who nurtures one's fate. Examples of the ruin of merci-
less warriors who were brave alone are conspicuous in both past
There was a certain point in the conversation when a retainer
of Lord Nabeshima Naohiro said, "There are no men here upon
whom the master can truly rely. Although I am consistently
useless, I am the only one who would throw away his life for
It is said that Lord Naohiro got outrageously angry, saying,
"Among our retainers there is not a one who holds his life in
regret! You are talking arrogance!" and he was at the point of
striking him when the man was pulled away by others who were
Once when Master Tanesada, the founder of the China fam-
ily, was coming by sea to the island of Shikoku, a strong wind
began blowing and the boat was damaged. The boat was saved
from sinking by abalone gathering together and covering over
the damaged sections. From that time on none of the China
family nor any of its retainers ate abalone. If one of them mis-
takenly ate one, it is said that his body was covered with boils
in the shape of abalone.
At the fall of the castle at Arima, on the twenty-eighth day
in the vicinity of the inmost citadel, Mitsuse Gender sat down
on a levee between the fields. When Nakano Shintohi passed by
and asked the reason for this, Mitsuse replied, "I have abdominal
pains and can't go a step farther. I have sent the members of
my group ahead, so please take command." This situation was
reported by the overseer, pronounced to be a case of cowardice,
and Mitsuse was ordered to commit seppuku.
Long ago, abdominal pains were called "cowardice grass."
This is because they come suddenly and render a person immo-
At the time of Lord Nabeshima Naohiro's death, Lord Mit-
sushige forbade Naohiro 's retainers the practice of tsuifuku.
His messenger went to Naohiro's mansion and made the decla-
ration, but those who received this news could in no way agree to
it. From their midst Ishimaru Uneme (later called Seizaemon)
spoke from the lowest seat, "It is improper for me as a younger
person to speak out, but I think that what Lord Katsushige has
said is reasonable. As a person who received the master's care
when I was young, I had whole- heartedly decided on tsuifuku.
But hearing Lord Katsushige's dictum and being convinced of
his reasoning, no matter what the others may do, I am giving
up the idea of tsuifuku and will serve the master's successor."
Hearing this, the others all followed suit.
Once Lord Masaie was playing shogi with Lord Hideyoshi
and there were a number of daimyo watching. When it came
time to withdraw, although Lord Masaie could stand, his feet
were numb and he could not walk. He made his withdrawal
crawling away, causing everyone to laugh. Because Lord Masaie
was big and obese he was not ordinarily able to be on his knees.
After this event he thought it would not be fitting to he in
attendance anymore and began refusing such duties .
Nakano Uemonnosuke Tadaaki was killed on the twelfth day
of the eighth month in the sixth year of Eiroku, at the time of
the fight between Master Goto and Master Hirai of Suko on the
island of Kabashima in the Kishima district. When Uemonno-
suke was leaving for the front lines, he emgraced his son Shikibu
(later called Jin'emon) in the garden and, although Shikibu was
very young, said, "When you grow up, win honor in the Way of
Even when the children in his family were very young, Ya-
mamoto Jin'emon would draw near to them and say, "Grow up
to be a great stalwart, and be of good use to your master." He
said, "It is good to breathe these things into their ears even when
they are too young to understand."
When Ogawa Toshikiyo's legitimate son Sahei Kiyoji died as
a youth, there was one young retainer who galloped up to the
temple and committed seppuku.
When Taku Nagato no kami Yasuyori passed away, Kola
Yataemon said that he had been unable to repay the master's
kindness and committed seppuku.
Narutomi Hyogo said
ARUTOMI HYOGO said, "What is called winning is
defeating one's allies. Defeating one's allies is de-
feating oneself, and defeating oneself is vigorously
overcoming one's own body.
"It is as though a man were in the midst of ten thousand
allies but not a one were following him. If one hasn't previously
mastered his mind and body, he will not defeat the enemy."
During the Shimabara Rebellion, his armor being still at the
encampment, Shugyo Echizen no kami Tanenao participated in
the fight dressed only in hakama and haori. It is said that he
died in battle in this attire.
At the time of the attack on the castle at Shimabara, Tazaki
Geki was wearing very resplendent armor. Lord Katsushige was
not pleased by this, and after that every time he saw something
showy he would say, "That's just like Geki's armor."
In the light of this story, military armor and equipment that
are showy can be seen as being weak and having no strength.
By them one can see through the wearer's heart.
When Nabeshima wizen no kami Tadanao died, his atten-
dant Ezoe Kinbei took his remains and had them consecrated
at Mt. Kola. Then, confining himself in a hermitage, he carved
a statue of his master and another of himself doing reverence be-
fore the master. On the first anniversary of Tadanao's death, he
returned to his home and committed tsuifuku. Later the statue
was taken from Mt. Koya and was placed at the Kodenji.
In the generation of Lord Mitsushige, Oishi Kosuke was at
first a foot soldier serving at the side of his master. When-
ever Lord Mitsushige was making the trip for his alternate- year
residence in Edo, Kosuke would make the rounds around the
sleeping quarters of his master, and if he thought a certain area
to be insecure, he would spread a straw mat and pass through
the night awake by himself. In rainy weather he would simply
wear a bamboo hat and an oilpaper raincoat and would stand
watch while being pelted by the rain. It is said that to the end
he never spent a single night in negligence .
When Oishi Kosuke was an uchitonin, a mysterious person
sneaked into the area of the maids' chambers late at night.'
There was a great commotion from upstairs to down and men
and women of all ranks were running about; only Kosuke was not
to be seen. While the senior ladies-in- waiting were searching
about, Kosuke yanked his sword from its scabbard and waited
quietly in the room next to the master's bedchamber. As all
was in confusion, he had felt apprehension for the master and
was there to protect him. Because of this it was said that his
viewpoint was quite different.
The man who had sneaked in was Narutomi Kichibei. He
and his accomplice Hamada Ichizaemon were condemned to
death for adultery.
Once when Lord Katsushige was hunting at Nishime, for
some reason he got very angry. He drew his sword from his obi,
scabbard and all, and began beating Soejima Zennojo with it,
but his hand slipped and his sword fell into a ravine. Zennojo,
in order to stay with the sword, fumbled down into the ravine
and picked it up. This done, he stuck the sword in his lapel,
crawled up the precipice, and just as he was, offered the sword
to his master. In terms of quick- mindedness and reserve this
was matchless resource.
Once when Master Sane Ukyo was crossing over the Takao
River, the bridge was being repaired and there was one large
piling that could not be pulled up. Master Ukyo dismounted,
grasped the piling firmly, pave a shout, and began to pull it up.
There was a tremendous sound, and although he was able to pull
it up to his own height, it would go no further and thereupon
sank. After he returned home he became sick and suddenly
At the time of the funeral at the temple in Jobaru, when the
funeral procession crossed the Takao Bridge, the corpse leapt
from the casket and fell into the river. A sixteen-year- old
acolyte from the Shufukuji immediately jumped into the river
and took hold of the dead body. Everyone then ran down into
the river and pulled up the corpse. The head monk was very
impressed and instructed the other acolytes to be guided by this
young man. It is said that he later became a very famous monk.
Yamamoto Kichizaemon was ordered by his father Jin'-emon
to cut down a dog at the age of five, and at the age of fifteen
he was made to execute a criminal. Everyone, by the time they
were fourteen or fifteen, was ordered to do a beheading without
fail. When Lord Katsushige was young, he was ordered by Lord
Naoshige to practice killing with a sword. It is said that at that
time he was made to cut down more than ten men successively.
A long time ago this practice was followed, especially in the
upper classes, but today even the children of the lower classes
perform no executions, and this is extreme negligence. To say
that one can do without this sort of thing, or that there is no
merit in killing a condemned man, or that it is a crime, or that
it is defiling, is to make excuses. In short, can it not be thought
that because a person's martial valor is weak, his attitude is
only that of trimming his nails and being attractive?
If one investigates into the spirit of a man who finds these
things disagreeable, one sees that this person gives himself over
to cleverness and excuse making not to kill because he feels
unnerved. But Naoshige made it his orders exactly because this
is something that must be done.
Last year I went to the Kase Execution Grounds to try my
hand at beheading, and I found it to be an extremely good
feeling. To think that it is unnerving is a symptom of cowardice.
Among the pageboys in forelocks in Lord Mitsushige's ret-
inue, one Tomoda Shozaemon was in attendance. A rather wan-
ton fellow, he fell in love with a leading actor of the theater by
the name of Tamon Shozaemon and changed both his name and
his crest to that of the actor. Completely abandoning himself to
this affair, he spent everything he had and lost all his clothing
and furnishings. And at length, when he had exhausted all his
means, he stole Mawatari Rokubei's sword and had a spearman
take it to a pawnshop.
The spearman, however, spoke up about this matter, and in
the investigation both he and Shozaemon were condemned to
death. The investigator was Yamamoto Gorozaemon. When he
read the report, he spoke in a loud voice and said, "The man
who accuses the defendant is Spearman so-and-so."
Mitsushigc responded quickly, "Put him to death."
When it came time to announce his fate to Shozaemon,
Gorozaemon came in and said, "There is now nothing left to
be done for you. Prepare yourself for your place of death."
Shozaemon settled himself and said, "Very well. I understand
what you have said and am grateful for your words." Due to
somebody's trickery, however, while a kaishaku was introduced
to Shozaemon, it was arranged that a foot soldier, Naozuka
Rokuuemon, was to step from the side and decapitate him.
Repairing to the execution grounds, where the kaishaku stood
opposite him, Shozaemon saluted him with extreme calm. But
just then, seeing Naozuka drawing his sword, he jumped up and
said, "Who are you? I'll never let you cut off my head!" From
that point on his peace of mind was shattered and he showed ter-
rible cowardice. Finally he was brought to the ground, stretched
out, and decapitated.
Gorozaemon later said secretly, ' 'If he hadn't been deceived,
he would have probably met his death well."
Noda Kizaemon said about the function of kaishaku, "When
a man who has come to his place of death loses his wits and is
crawling about, it is likely seine damage will be done when it
comes time to perform kaishak. At such a time first wait a bit
and by some means gather your strength. Then if you cut by
standing firm and not missing the chance, you will do well."
In the generation of Lord Katsushige there were retainers
who, regardless of high or low rank, were requested to work
before the master from the time they were young. When Shiba
Kizaemon was doing such service, once the master was clipping
his nails and said, "Throw these away." Kizaemon held them
in his hand but did not stand up, and the master said, "What's
the matter?" Kizaemon said, "There's one missing." The master
said, ' 'Here it is," and banded over the one that he had hidden.
Sawabe Heizaemon was ordered to commit seppuku on the
eleventh day of the eleventh month in the second year of Tenna.
As this became known to him on the night of the tenth, he sent
a request to Yamamoto Gonnojo [Tsunetomo] to be kaishaku.
The following is a copy of Yamamoto's reply. (Tsunetomo was
twenty-four years old at this time.)
I am in accord with your resolution and accept your request
for me to function as kaishaku. I instinctively felt that I should
decline, but as this is to take place tomorrow there is no time for
making excuses and I will undertake the job. The fact that you
have chosen me from among many people is a great personal
satisfaction to me. Please set your mind at ease concerning all
that must follow. Although it is now late at night, I will come
to your house to talk over the particulars.
When Hcizaemon saw this reply, it is said that he remarked,
"This is a matchless letter."
From ages past it has been considered ill-omened by samurai
to be requested as kaishaku. The reason for this is that one pains
no fame even if the job is well done. And if by chance one should
blunder, it becomes a lifetime disgrace.
Once when Tanaka Yahei was attending to affairs in Edo,
one of his menials was rather insolent and Yahei scolded him
severely. Late that night Yahei heard the noise of someone com-
ing up the stairs. He felt this to be suspicious and quietly got
up. With short sword in hand he asked who was there, and it
turned out to be the menial whom he had scolded previously,
secretly holding a short sword. Yahei leapt down and with a sin-
gle stroke cut the man down. I heard many people later state
that he had had good luck.
A certain Master Tokuhisa was born quite different from
other people and looked to be a bit moronic. Once, a guest was
invited and mudfish salad was served. At that time everyone
said, "Master Tokuhisa's mudfish salad," and laughed. Later
when he was in attendance and a certain person made fun of
him by quoting the above remark, Tokuhisa pulled out his sword
and cut the man down. This event was investigated and it was
stated to Lord Naoshige, "Seppuku is recommended because this
was a matter of rashness within the palace."
When Lord Naoshige heard this, he said, ' 'To be made fun
of and remain silent is cowardice. There is no reason to overlook
this fact because one is within the palace. A man who makes
fun of people is himself a fool. It was his own fault for being cut
Once when Nakano Mokunosuke boarded a small boat on
the Sumida River to enjoy the coolness, a rogue got in too and
committed all manner of rude acts. When Mokunosuke saw that
the rogue was relieving himself over the side of the boat, he cut
the man's head off and it fell into the river. So that people
would not notice this, he quickly covered the body with various
things. He then said to the boatman, "This matter should not
become known. Row up to the upper reaches of the river and
bury the corpse. I shall naturally pay you well."
The boatman did as he was told, but in the lagoon where
the body was buried Mokunosuke cut off the head of the boat-
man and returned directly. It is said that this fact never became
known publicly. At that time there was also one young homo-
sexual male prostitute riding in the boat. Mekunosuke said,
"That fellow was a man too. It is best to learn how to cut a
man while one is still young," and so the man cut the corpse
once. Because of that the young man said nothing later on.
It is said that every time Oki Hyobu's group gathered and
after all their affairs were finished he would say, "Young men
should discipline themselves rigorously in intention and courage.
This will be accomplished if only courage is fixed in one's heart.
If one's sword is broken, he will strike with his hands. If his
hands are cut off, he will press the enemy down with his shoul-
ders. If his shoulders are cut away, he will bite through ten or
fifteen enemy necks with his teeth. Courage is such a thing."
Shida Kichinosuke said, "At first it is an oppressive thing to
run until one is breathless. But it is an extraordinarily good
feeling when one is standing around after the running. More
than that, it is even better to sit down. More than that, it
is even better to lie down. And more than that, to put down
a pillow and sleep soundly is even better. A man's whole life
should be like this. To exert oneself to a great extent when one
is young and then to sleep when he is old or at the point of
death is the way it should be. But to first sleep and then exert
oneself ... To exert oneself to the end, and to end one's whole
life in toil is regrettable." Shimomura Rokurouemon told this
A saying of Kichinosuke's that is similar to this is, "A man's
life should be as toilsome as possible.''
When Ueno Rihei was overseer of accounting in Edo, he
had a young assistant whom he treated in a very intimate way.
On the first night of the eighth month he went drinking with
Hashimoto Taemon, an overseer of foot soldiers, and got so
drunk that he lost good sense. He accompanied his young as-
sistant back home, babbling on in a drunken manner, and when
they arrived there, Rihei said that he was going to cut the assis-
tant down. The assistant pushed away the tip of Rihei's scab-
bard. They grappled and both fell into the gutter with the
assistant on top pushing Rihei down. At this time, Rihei's ser-
vant ran up and asked, "Is Master Rihei on the top or on the
When Rihei replied, "I'm on the bottom !" the servant
stabbed the assistant once. The assistant got up and, as his
wound was light, ran away.
When the affair was brought under investigation, Rihei was
put into confinement at the Naekiyama prison and was con-
demned to capital punishment by beheading. Before this, when
he was positioned in Edo and living in a rented house in the
merchants' district, a servant had opposed him and he had cut
him down. But he had acted in a good way at that time, and
people said that he had acted like a man. This time, however,
his actions were outrageous and were certainly unnecessary.
If one thinks about this well from beginning to end, to get
so drunk as to draw one's sword is both cowardice and lack of
resolve. Rihei's servant was a man from Taku, but his name is
not remembered. Though he was a member of the lower classes,
he was a brave man. It is said that Taemon committed suicide
during the investigation.
In the twelfth section of the fifth chapter of the Ryoankyo
there is this story:
In the Province of Wizen there was a certain man from Take
who, although he had contracted smallpox, was considering join-
ing the forces attacking the castle at Shimabara. His parents
earnestly tried to get him to desist, saying, "With such a grave
illness, even if you should get there, how could you be of any
He replied, "It would be to my satisfaction to die on the
way. After having received the warm benevolence of the master,
should I tell myself that I will be of no use to him now?" And he
left for the front. Although it was winter camp and the cold was
extreme, he did not pay any attention to his health, and neither
put on many layers of clothing nor took off his armor day or
night. Moreover, he did not avoid uncleanliness, and in the end
recovered quickly and was able to fulfill his loyalty completely.
So to the contrary of what you would expect, it cannot be said
that one is to despise uncleanliness.
When the teacher, Suzuki Shozo, heard this, he said, "Was
it not a cleansing act to throw away his life for his master? For
a man who will cut of his life for the sake of righteousness, there
is no need to call upon the god of smallpox. All the gods of
heaven will protect him. " Lord Katsushige said, 'Whether a
man of Hizen holds death in regret or not is not a matter of
concern. What I worry about is that people will not take to
heart the command to keep the rules of manners and etiquette
correctly. I am afraid that the entire clan, our relatives and
elders, out of too much earnestness, will feel that the command
to keep correct etiquette is an exaggeration. Up to now there
have existed men who were used to these things, and even if
etiquette was slightly wrong, they could remember the correct
way, and the matter was settled. I have given this command
because people are negligent in affairs of this sort."
During the Genroku period there was a samurai of low rank
from the Province of Ise by the name of Suzuki Rokubei. He
was ill with a severe fever, and his consciousness became dim.
At that time a certain male nurse was unexpectedly stricken
with greed and was about to open up the inkbox and steal the
money that was kept in it. Just then the sick man suddenly
stirred, took the sword from the base of his pillow, and in a
sudden attack cut the man down with one blow. With that, the
sick man fell back and died. By this act, Rokubei seemed to be
a man of principled disposition.
I heard this story in Edo, but later when I was serving in
the same province with a Dr. Nagatsuka, who was also from the
Province of Ise, I asked him about it, and indeed he knew the
story and said that it was true.
On the night of the
THE NIGHT of the thirteenth day of the ninth month
in the fourth year of Teikyo, there was a group
of ten No actors moon-viewing at the house of
Nakayama Mosuke, a foot soldier, in Sayanomoto.
Beginning with Naotsuka Kanzaemon they all began to make
fun of the foot soldier Araki Kyozaemen because he was so short.
Araki became angry, killed Kanzaemon with his sword, and then
began striking at the others.
Though he suffered a severed hand, Matsumoto Rokuzaemon
came down into the garden, seized Araki from behind with his
other hand, and said, "As for the likes of you, I'll twist your head
off with one hand!" Grabbing away Araki's sword, he pushed
him to the doorsill and pressed him down with his knee, but
as he seized him by the neck he became faint and was quickly
Araki quickly sprang back and again began to strike at those
around him, but now Master Hayata (later known as Jirozae-
mon) met him with a spear. In the end he was overpowered by
a number of men. Following this, Araki was made to commit
seppuku, and the others who were involved were all made ronin
on account of their indiscretion, but Hayata was later pardoned.
As Tsunetomo does not remember this story clearly, one
should ask around about it.
Some years ago there was a sutra reading at the Jissoin in
Kawakami. Five or six men from Kon'yamachi and the area
of Tashiro had gone to the service, and on their way home
passed some time drinking. Among them was one of Kizuka
Kyuzaemon's retainers who, having some reason for doing so,
turned down his companions' invitation to join them and re-
turned borne before nightfall. The others, however, later pot
into a fight with some men and cut them all down.
Kyuzaemon's retainer heard of this late that night and went
quickly to his companions' quarters. He listened to the details
and then said, "In the end I suppose you will have to submit a
statement. When you do, you should say that I was there also
and assisted in cutting down those men. When I return, I will
say as much to Kyuzaemon. Since a fight is a matter involving
all concerned, I should meet the same death sentence as you.
And that is my deepest desire. The reason is that even if I were
to explain to my master that I had returned home early, he
would never accept it as the truth. Kyuzaemon has always been
a severe man, and even if I were cleared by the investigators, he
would probably have me executed as a coward right before his
eyes. In such a case, dying with the bad reputation of having
run away from a place would be extremely regretful.
"Since the fate of dying is the same, I would like to die being
blamed for having killed a man. If you are not in agreement
with this, I will cut my stomach open right here."
Having no alternative, his companions spoke as he had re-
quested. Presently, during the inquiry, although the circum-
stances were explained in the above manner, it became known
that the retainer had returned home early. All the investigators
were impressed and in fact praised the man. This matter was
transmitted to me only in outline, so I will look into the details
at a later date.
Once when Nabeshima Aki no kami Shigetake was halfway
through his meal, a guest suddenly came to see him and he left
his tray just as it was. Later, a certain retainer of his sat down
at the tray and began eating the fried fish that was on it. Just
then Lord Aki came back and saw him, and the man became
flustered and ran off. Lord Aki yelled out, "What a low-life slave
you are to eat something that someone else has been eating!"
and sat down and finished what was left.
This is one of Jin'emon's stories. It is said that this retainer
was one of those who committed tsuifuku for the master.
Yamamoto Jin'emon always said to his retainers, "Go ahead
and gamble and lie. A person who will not tell you seven lies
within a hundred yards is useless as a man. " Long ago people
spoke in this fashion because they were only concerned with a
man's attitude towards military matters and considered that a
man who was "correct" would never do great works. They also
ignored the misconduct of men and dismissed such matters by
saying, "They do good works, too..."
Men like Sagara Kyoma also excused retainers who had com-
mitted theft and adultery and trained them gradually. He said,
"If it weren't for such persons, we would have no useful men at
Ikumo Oribe said, "If a retainer will just think about what
he is to do for the day at hand, he will be able to do anything.
If it is a single day's work, one should be able to put up with it.
Tomorrow, too, is but a single day."
At the time when Lord Nabeshima Tsunashige had still not
taken over as heir, he was converted by the Zen priest Kuro-
takiyama Choon and learned Buddhism from him. Since he
had had an enlightenment, the priest was going to confer the
seal upon him, and this became known throughout the man-
sion. At that time Yamamoto Gorozaemon had been ordered to
be both Tsunashige's attendant and overseer. When he heard
of this, he knew that it absolutely would not do and planned
to make a request to Choon, and if he did not assent, kill him.
He went to the priest's house in Edo and entered; the priest,
thinking that he was someone on a pilgrimage, met him in a
Gorozaemon drew near him and said, ' 'I have some secret
thing to tell you directly. Please send out your attendant priests.
"It is said that you will soon award Tsunashige the seal be-
cause of his cleverness in Buddhism. Now as you are from Hizen,
you should know in large part the customs of the Ryuzoji and
Nabeshima clans. Our country is ruled with harmony between
high and low because, unlike others, it has had continuous heirs
for successive generations. There has never been the taking of
a Buddhist seal by the daimyo for ages past. If you present the
seal now, Tsunashige will probably think of himself as enlight-
ened and regard what his retainers say as so much dirt. A great
man will become vain. Absolutely do not give this award. If
you do not agree to this, I too am resolved. This he said with
The priest's color changed, but he said, "Well, well. You
have trustworthy intentions, and I see that you under- stand
the affairs of your clan well. You are a loyal retainer . . ."
But Gorozaemon said, "No! I understand that ploy. I didn't
come here to be praised. Without adding anything else, let me
hear clearly whether you plan to cancel the seal or not."
Choon said, "What you say is reasonable. I will definitely
not award the seal."
Gorozaemon made sure of this and returned. Tsunetomo
heard this story directly from Gorozaemon.
A group of eight samurai all took the same road for some
merrymaking. Two of them, Komori Eijun and Otsubo Jin'-
cmon, went into a teahouse in front of the Kannon temple at
Asakusa, got into an argument with the male employees there,
and were soundly beaten. This could be heard by the others,
who were in an excursion boat, and Mute Rokuemen said, "We
should go back and take revenge." Yoshii Yoichiemon and Ezoe
Jinbei both agreed to this.
The others, however, dissuaded them, saying, "This will cause
trouble for the clan," and they all returned home. When they
arrived at the mansion, Rokuemon again said, 'We should def-
initely take revenge!" but the others disuaded him. Although
they sustained heavy wounds on their arms and legs, Eijian and
Jin'emon cut the teahouse men down, and those who had re-
turned were taken to task by the master.
In due course some thought was given to the details of this
event. One person said, "By waiting to ;get the agreement of
others, a matter like taking revenge will never be brought to a
conclusion. One should have the resolution to go alone and even
to be cut down. A person who speaks vehemently about taking
revenge but does nothing about it is a hypocrite. Clever people,
by using their mouths alone, are taking care of their reputations
for a later date. But a real stalwart is a man who will go out
secretly, saying nothing, and die. It is not necessary to achieve
one's aim; one is a stalwart in being cut down. Such a person
will most likely achieve his purpose."
lchiyuken was a low class servant in the kitchen of Lord
Takanobu. Because of some grudge he had over a matter of
wrestling, he cut down seven or eight men and was hence or-
dered to commit suicide. But when Lord Takanobu heard of
this he pardoned the man and said, "In these strife-torn times
of our country, brave men are important. This man would seem
to be a man of bravery." Consequently, at the time of the action
around the Uji River, Lord Takanobu took Ichiyuken along, and
the latter earned unrivaled fame, advancing deep into the lead
and plundering the enemy every time.
At the battle of Takagi, Ichiyuken went so far into the enemy
lines that Lord Takanobu felt regret and called him back. Since
the vanguard had been unable to advance, only by quickly dash-
ing out was he able to grab Ichiyuken by the sleeve of his armor.
At that time Ichiyuken's head had suffered many wounds, but
he had stopped them up with preen leaves which he bound with
a thin towel.
On the first day of the attack on Hara Caste, Tsuruta Yashichibci
went as a messenger from Lord Mimasaka to Oki Hyobu, but as
he was delivering the message, he was shot through the pelvic
region by a bullet fired from the castle and instantly fell on his
face. He got up again and delivered the rest of the message,
was felled a second time, and died. Yashichibei's body was car-
ried back by Taira Chihyoei. When Chihyoei was returning to
Hyobu's camp, he too was struck by a rifle ball and died.
Dense was born in Taku , and the members of his family liv-
ing at this time were his elder brother Jirbei, his younger brother
and his mother. Around the ninth month Denko's mother took
Jirobei's son with her to hear a sermon. When it was time to
go home, the child, as he was putting on his straw sandals, ac-
cidentally stepped on the foot of the man next to him. The
man rebuked the child, and in the end they pot into a vehement
argument and the man unsheathed his short sword and killed
him. Jirobei's mother was dumb struck. She clung to the man,
and he killed her too. Having done this, the man returned to
This man's name was Gorouemon, and he was the son of a
ronin by the name of Nakajima Moan. His younger brother was
the mountain ascetic, Chuzobo. Moan was an advisor to Master
Mimasaka, and Gorouemon had been given a stipend also.
When the circumstances became known at Jirobei's home,
his younger brother set out for Gorouemon 's place. Finding that
the door was locked from within and that no one would come
out, he disguised his voice, pretending to be a visitor. When the
door was opened, he shouted his real name and crossed swords
with his enemy. Both men fumbled into the rubbish heap, but in
the end Gorouemon was killed. At this point, Chuzobo dashed
in and cut down Jirobei's younger brother.
Hearing of this incident, Dense went immediately to Jirobei's
place and said, "Of our enemies only one has been killed, while
we have lost three. This is extremely regret- table, so why don't
you strike at Chuzobo?" Jirobei, however, would not comply.
Denko felt that this was indeed shameful, and although a
Buddhist priest, he decided on striking at the enemy of his
mother, younger brother and nephew. He knew, nevertheless,
that since he was simply an ordinary priest, there was likely to
be a reprisal from Master Mimasaka and therefore worked hard,
finally gaining eminence as the chief priest of the Ryuunji. He
then went to the sword maker Iyonojo and asked him to make
both a long and a short sword, offered to be his apprentice, and
was even allowed to take part in the work.
By the twenty-third day of the ninth month of the follow- ing
year, he was ready to make his departure. By chance a guest had
come at this time. Giving orders for food to be served, Denko
secretly slipped out of the chief priest's headquarters disguised
as a layman. He then went to taku and, upon asking about
Chuzobo, learned that he was with a large group of people who
had gathered to watch the moonrise, and that therefore noth-
ing much could be done. Unwilling to let time pile up, he felt
that it would be fulfilling his basic desire to strike at the father,
Moan. Going to Moan's house, he forced his way into the sleep-
ing chambers, announced his name, and when the man began to
get up, stabbed and killed him. When the people of the neigh-
borhood came running and surrounded him, he explained the
situation, threw away both long and short swords, and returned
home. News of this preceded him to Saga, and a good number
of Denko's parishioners came out quickly and accompanied him
on his return.
Master Mimasaka was quite outraged, but as Denko was the
chief priest of a Nabeshima clan temple, there was nothing to be
done. Finally, through the offices of Nabeshima Toneri, he sent
word to Tannen, the chief priest of the Kodenji, saying, "When a
priest has killed a man, he should be given a sentence of death."
Tannen's reply was, "The punishment for one within the religion
will be in accordance with the feelings of the Kodenji. Kindly
do not interfere."
Master Mimasaka became even angrier and asked, "What
sort of punishment will this be?" Tannen replied, "Although it
is profitless for you to know, you are forcing the question, so I
will give you an answer. The [Buddhist] Law is that an apostate
priest is deprived of his robes and driven out."
Denko's robes were taken from him at the Kodenji, and when
he was to be driven out, some novices put on their long and short
swords, and a great number of parishioners came to protect him,
accompanying him as far as Todoroki. On the road a number
of men who looked like hunters appeared and asked if the party
had come from Taku. Thereafter Denko lived in Chikuzen, was
well received by all, and was on friendly terms with samurai as
well. This story was widely circulated, and it is said that he was
treated kindly everywhere.
Horie San'emon's misdeed was robbing the Nabeshima ware-
house in Edo of its money and fleeing to another prov ince. He
was caught and confessed. Thus it was pro nounced , "Because
this is a grave crime he should be tortured to death, " and
Nakano Daigaku was ordered to be the official who verified the
execution. At first all the hairs on his body were burner off and
his fingernails were pulled out. His tendons were then cut, he
was bored with drills and sub jected to various other tortures.
Throughout, he did not flinch once, nor did his face change
color. In the end his back was split, he was boiled in soy sauce,
and his body was bent back in two.
Once when Fukuchi Rokurouemon was leaving the castle, the
palanquin of what appeared to be a rather upper class woman
was passing in front of Master Taku's mansion, and a man who
was standing there made the proper salutation. A halberd car-
rier who was with the palanquin procession, however, said to
the man, "You didn't bow low enough," and struck him on the
head with the handle of his halberd. When the man wiped his
head, he found that he was bleeding. In just that condition
he stood up and said, "You have committed an outrageous act,
even though I was courteous. A regrettable piece of luck." So
saying, he cut the halberd carrier down with a single blow. The
palanquin continued on to wherever it was going, but Rokuroue-
mon unsheathed his spear, stood before the man, and said. "Put
away your sword. Within the castle grounds it is forbidden to go
about holding a naked blade." The man said, "What happened
now was unavoidable, and I was compelled by the circumstances.
Certainly you could see that this was so. Although I would like
to sheathe my sword, it is difficult to do so due to the tone of
your words. It is unpleasant, but I shall be glad to accept your
Rokurouemon immediately threw down his spear and said
courteously, "What you have said is reasonable. My name is
Fukuchi Rokurouemon. I will bear witness that your conduct
was quite admirable. Moreover, I will back you up even if it
means forfeiting my life. Now put away your sword."
"With pleasure," the man said, and sheathed his sword. On
being asked where he was from, the man replied that he was a
retainer of Taku Nagato no kami Yasuyori. Therefore Rokuroue-
mon accompanied him and explained the circumstances. Know-
ing that the woman in the palanquin was the wife of a nobleman,
however, Lord Nagato ordered his retainer to commit seppuku.
Rokurouemon came forward and said, "Because I have given
the promise of a samurai, if this man is ordered to commit sep-
puku, then I will commit seppuku first."
It is said that the affair was thus finished without mishap.
Lord Shima sent a messenger to his father, Lord Aki, saying,
"I would like to make a pilgrimage to the Atago Shrine in Kyoto."
Lord Aki asked, "For what reason?" and the messenger replied,
"Since Atago is the pod of archery, my intentions are for the sake
of fortune in war." Lord Aki became angry and answered. "That
is absolutely worthless! Should the vanguard of the Nabeshimas
be making requests to Atago? If the incarnation of Atago were
fighting on the enemy's side, the vanguard should be equal to
cutting him neatly in two."
Dohaku lived in Kurotsuchibaru. His son was named Gorobei.
Once when Gorobei was carrying a load of rice, a ronin of Master
Kumashiro Sakyo's by the name of Iwamura Kyunai was coming
from the other direction. There was a grudge between the two
of them from some former incident, and now Gorobei struck
Kyunai with his load of rice, started an argument, beat him
and pushed him into a ditch, and then returned home. Kyunai
yelled some threat at Gorobei and returned to his home where
he related this event to his older brother Gen'emon. The two of
them then went off' to Gorobei's to take revenge.
When they got there the door was open just a bit, and
Gorobei was waiting behind it with drawn sword. Not knowing
this, Gen'emon entered and Gorobei struck at him with a sweep
from the side, having received a deep wound, Gen'emon used
his sword as a staff and hobbled back outside. Then Kyunai
rushed in and struck at Dohaku's son-in-law Katsuemon, who
was sitting by the hearth. His sword glanced off the pot hanger,
and he cut off half of Katsucmcn's face. Dohaku, together with
his wife, grabbed the sword away from Kyunai.
Kyunai apologized and said, "1 have already achieved my
purpose. Please give me back my sword and 1 will accompany
my brother home. But when Dohaku banded it back to him,
Kyunai cut him once in the back and severed his neck halfway
through. He then crossed swords with Gorobei again and both
went outside and fought an even match until he cut off Gorobei's
At this point Kyunai, who also suffered many wounds, shoul-
dered his elder brother Gen'emon and returned home. Gen'emon,
however, died on the way back.
Gorobei's wounds were numerous. Although he stopped the
bleeding, he died on account of drinking some water. Dohaku's
wife suffered some severed fingers. Dohaku's wound was a sev-
ered neck bone, and since only his throat remained intact, his
head hung down in front. Now boosting his head up with his
own hands, Dohaku went off to the surgeons.
The surgeons treatment was like this: First he rubbed a
mixture of pine resin and oil on Dohaku's jaw and bound it in
ramie. He then attached a rope to the top of his head and tied
it to a beam, sewed the open wound shut, and buried his body
in rice so that he would not be able to move.
Dohaku never lost consciousness nor did he change from his
everyday attitude, nor did he even drink ginseng. It is said that
only on the third day when there was a hemorrhage did he use
a little medicinal stimulant. In the end the bones mended, and
he recovered without incident.
When Lord Mitsushige contracted smallpox at Shimonoseki,
Ikushima Sakuan gave him some medicine. It was an excep-
tionally heavy case of smallpox, and his attendants both high
and low were rather tense. Suddenly his scabs turned black.
The men who were nursing him lost heart and secretly informed
Sakuan, who came immediately. He said, "Well, this is some-
thing to be thankful for. The scabs are healing. He should soon
make a complete recovery with no complications. I give you my
The people who were at Lord Mitsushige's side heard this
and thought, "Sakuan looks a little deranged. This has become
all the more hopeless."
Sakuan then set folding screens around, came out after a
while, and fed Lord Mitsushige one packet of medicine. Very
quickly the patient's scabs healed, and he made a complete re-
covery. Sakuan later confided to someone, "I gave the master
that one packet of medicine resolved that, as I was undertaking
this treatment alone, if he did not recover I would quickly cut
open my stomach and die with him."
When Nakano Takumi was dying, his whole house gathered
and he said, "You should understand that there are three con-
ditions to the resolution of a retainer. They are the condition
of the master's will, the condition of vitality, and the condition
of one's death."
Once when a number of men had gathered on the platform
of the inner citadel of the castle, a certain man said to Uchida
Shouemon, "It is said that you are a teacher of the sword, but
judging by your everyday attitude, your teaching must be very
wild indeed. If you were requested to perform kaishaku, I can
imagine that instead of cutting the neck you'd probably cut the
top of the man's head."
Shouemon rejoined, "Such is not the case. Draw a little ink
spot on your own neck, and I'll show you that I can cut without
being off by a hair."
Nagayama Rokurozaemon was going down the Tokaido and
was at Hamamatsu. As he passed by an inn, a beggar faced his
palanquin and said, "I am a ronin from Echigo. I am short of
money and in difficulties. We are both warriors. Please help me
Rokurozaemon got angry and said, "It is a discourtesy to
mention that we are both warriors. If I were in your state of
affairs, I'd cut my stomach open. Rather than being out of
money for the road and exposing yourself to shame, cut your
stomach open right where you are!" It is said that the beggar
In Makiguchi Yohei's life he was kaishaku for many men.
When a certain Kanahara was to commit seppuku, Yohei con-
sented to be kaishaku. Kanahara thrust the sword into his belly,
but at the point of pulling it across he was unable to go further.
Yohei approached his side, yelled "Ei!" and stamped his foot.
From this impetus, Kanahara was able to pull his sword straight
across his belly. After finishing the kaishaku, it is said that Yohei
shed tears and said, "Even though he was formerly a good friend
of mine . . ." This is a story of Master Sukeemon's.
At the time of a certain person's seppuku, when the kaishaku
a cut off his head, a little bit of skin was left hanging and the
head was not entirely separated from the body. The official
observer said, "There's some left." The kaishaku got angry, took
hold of the head, and cutting it completely off, held it above eye
level and said, "Take a look!" It is said that it was rather chilling.
This is a story of Master Sukeemon's.
In the practice of past times, there were instances when the
head flew off'. It was said that it is best to cut leaving a little
skin remaining so that it doesn't fly oft in the direction of the
verifying officials. However, at present it is best to cut clean
A man who had cut off fifty heads once said, "According to
the head, there are cases when even the trunk of a body will
bring some reaction to you. Cutting off just three heads, at first
there is no reaction and you can cut well. But when you get to
four or five, you feel quite a bit of reaction. At any rate, since
this is a very important matter, if one always plans on bringing
the head to the ground there should be no mistakes."
When Lord Nabeshima Tsunashige was a child, Iwamura Ku-
ranosuke was ordered to the position of elder. On one occasion
Kuranosuke saw that there were gold coins before the young
Tsunashige and asked the attending retainer, "For what reason
have you brought these out before the young master?" The
attendant replied, "The master just now heard that a gift had
been brought for him. He said that he had not yet seen it, so I
brought it out for him ." Kuranosuke scolded the man severely,
saying, "To place such base things before a person of impor-
tance is the extremity of careless ness. You may also consider
them something not to be put before the lord's son. Attending
retainers should henceforth be very mindful of this."
Another time, when Lord Tsunashige was about twenty years
old, he once went to the mansion at Naekiyama for some diver-
sion. As the party neared the mansion, he asked for a walking
stick. His sandal carrier, Miura Jibuzaemon, fashioned a stick
and was about to give it to the young lord.
Kuranosake saw this, quickly took the stick from Jibuzae-
mon, and scolded him severely, saying, ' 'Will you make our
important young lord a sluggard? Even if he should ask for a
stick , it should not be given to him. This is carelessness on the
part of the attending retainer."
Jibuzaernon was later promoted to the rank of teakiyari, and
Tsunetomo heard this story directly from him.
hen Shimomura Shoun was on service at the cas-
tle, Lord Naoshige said, "How wonderful it is that
Katsushige is so vigorous and powerful for his
age. In wrestling with his peers he even beat
those who are older than he is."
Shoun replied, "Even though I'm an old man, I'll bet I'm
best at seated wrestling." So saying, he jerked up Katsushige
and threw him so forcefully that it hurt. He then said, "To
be prideful about your strength while your mettle is not yet
established is likely to bring you shame in the midst of people.
You are weaker than you look." Then he withdrew.
At the time when Matsuda Yohei was an intimate friend
of Ishii Jinku's, there developed some bad feelings between the
former and Nozoe Jinbei. Yohei sent word to Jinbei saying,
"Please come and I will settle this matter once and for all." Then
he and Jinku set out together and, coming to the Yamabushi
mansion at Kihara, they crossed the only bridge there was and
destroyed it. Talking over the circumstances of the discord, they
examined them from all sides and found no reason to fight. But
when they decided to turn around and go home, there was, of
course, no bridge.
While they were looking for an appropriate way of crossing
the moat, the men whom the two had challenged could be seen
approaching stealthily. Yohei and Jinku saw this and said, "We
have passed the point of no return, and may as well fight rather
than be disgraced at a later date." The battle lasted for some
time. Seriously wounded, Yohei fell down between two fields.
Jinbei also received a deep wound, and with blood flowing into
his eyes was unable to find Yohei. While Jinbei thus searched
about blindly, Yohei was able to hold him off from his prone
position and in the end cut him down. But when he attempted
to deliver the finishing blow, having no strength left in his hand,
he pierced Jinbei's neck by pushing the sword with his foot.
At this point, friends arrived and accompanied Yohei back.
After his wounds healed he was ordered to commit seppuku. At
that time he called his friend Jinku, and they drank a farewell
Okubo Toemon of Shioda ran a wineshop for Nabeshima
Kenmotsu. Lord Okura, the son of Nabeshima Kai no kami,
was a cripple and confined indoors in a place called Mine. He
harbored wrestlers and liked rowdies. The wrestlers would of-
ten go to nearby villages and cause disturbances. One time
they went to Toemon's place, drank sake and talked unreason-
ably, bringing Toemon into an argument. He met them with a
halberd, but as there were two of them he was cut down.
His son, Kannosuke, was fifteen years old and was in the
midst of studies at the Jozeiji when he was informed of the
incident. Galloping off, he took a short sword about sixteen
inches in length, joined combat with the two big men, and in a
short time finished them both off. Although Kannosuke received
thirteen wounds, he recovered. Later he was called Doko and is
said to have become very adept at massage.
It is said that Tokunaga Kichizaemon repeatedly com- plained,
"I've grown so old that now, even if there were to be a battle,
I wouldn't be able to do anything. Still, I would like to die by
galloping into the midst of the enemy and being struck down
and killed. It would be a shame to do nothing more than to die
in one's bed." It is said that the priest Gyojaku heard this when
he was an acolyte. Gyojaku's master was the priest Yemen, who
was Kichizaemon's youngest child.
When Sagara Kyuma was requested to become a chief re-
tainer, he said to Nabeshima Heizaemon, "For some reason I
have been increasingly well treated by the master and now have
been requested to take a high rank. Not having a good retainer,
my affairs are liable to be in disorder. It is my request that you
give me your retainer, Takase Jibusaemon." Heizaemon listened
to him and consented, saying, "It is very gratifying that you
have kept an eye on my retainer. I will therefore do as you ask."
But when he related this to Jibusaemon, the latter said,
"I should reply directly to Master Kyuma." He then went to
Kyuma's place and talked with him. Jibusaemon told Kyuma,
"I know it is a great honor that you have thought well of me
and have made this request. But a retainer is a person who
cannot change masters. As you are of high rank, if I were to
become your retainer my life would be replete, but that replete-
ness would be a vexation to me. Because Her zaemon is of low
rank and is hard pressed, we live by eating cheap rice gruel. Yet
that is sweet enough. Please think this over."
Kyuma was extremely impressed.
A certain man went of somewhere and on returning home
late at night, found that a strange man had slipped into the
house and was committing adultery with his wife. He there-
upon killed the man. He then broke down a wall and propped
up a bale of rice, and by this arrangement submitted to the
authorities that he had killed a thief. Thus it went without
mishap. After some time had passed he divorced his wife and
the affair was finished.
When a certain person returned home from some place or
other, he found his wife committing adultery with a retainer
in the bedroom. When he drew near the two, his retainer fled
through the kitchen. He then went into the bedroom and slew
Calling the maidservant, he explained what had happened
and said, "Because this would bring shame to the children, it
should be covered up as death by illness and I will need consid-
erable help. If you think that this is too much for you, I may as
well kill you too for your part in this serious crime."
She replied, "If you will spare my life, I will go on as if I
don't know anything. " She rearranged the room and set out
the corpse in its nightclothes. Then, after sending a man to
the doctor's place two or three times saying that there was a
sudden illness, they sent a last messenger saying that it was too
late and there was no longer any need to come. The wife's uncle
was called in and told about the illness, and he was convinced.
The entire affair was passed oft as death by illness, and to the
end no one knew the truth. At a later date the retainer was
dismissed. This affair happened in Edo.
At New Year's in the third year of Keicho at a place in Korea
called Yolsan, when the armies of the Ming appeared by the
hundreds of thousands, the Japanese troops were amazed and
watched with bated breath. Lord Naoshige said, "Well, well.
That's a great number of men ! I wonder how many hundreds
of thousands there are?"
Jin'emon said, "In Japan, for something that's numberless
we say 'as many as the hairs on a threeyear- old calf.' This
would certainly live up to the number of hairs on a three-year-
old calf!" It is said that everybody laughed and regained their
Later, Lord Katsushige was hunting at MI. Shiroishi and
told Nakano Matabei about this. ' 'Except for your father who
spoke in such a way, there was no one who said even a word."
Nakano Jin'emon constantly said, "A person who serves when
treated kindly by the master is not a retainer. But one who
serves when the master is being heartless and unreasonable is a
retainer. You should understand this principle well."
When Yamamoto Jin'emon was eighty years old, he be- came
ill. At one point, he seemed to be on the verge of groaning,
and someone said to him, "You'll feel better if you groan. Go
ahead. *' But he replied, "Such is not the case. The name of
Yamamoto Jin'emon is known by everyone, and I have shown
up well throughout a whole lifetime. To let people hear my
groaning voice in my last moments would never do." It is said
that he did not let out a groan to the very end.
A certain son of Mori Monbei got into a fight and returned
home wounded. Asked by Monbei, "What did you do to your
opponent?" his son replied, "I cut him down."
When Monbei asked, "Did you deliver the coup de grace?"
his son replied, "Indeed I did.'"
Then Monbei said, "You have certainly done well, and there
is nothing to regret. Now, even if you fled you would have to
commit seppuku anyway. When your mood improves, commit
seppuku, and rather than die by another's hand, you can die
by your father's." And soon after he performed kaishaku for his
A man in the same group as Aiura Genzaemon committed
some nefarious deed, and so the group leader gave him a note,
condemning him to death, which was to be taken to Genzae-
mon's place. Genzaemon perused the note and then said to the
man, "It says here that I should kill you, so I will do away with
you on the eastern bank. Previously you have practiced such
things as swordsmanship .... Now fight with all you've got."
The man replied, "I will do as you say," and with Genzaemon
alone accompanying him, they left the house. They had gone
about twenty yards along the edge of the moat when a retainer
of Genzaernon's yelled out, "Hey, Hey!" from the other side. As
Genzaemon was turning around, the condemned man attacked
him with his sword. Genzaemon ducked backwards, drew his
sword, and cut the man down. He then returned home.
He put the clothes he had been wearing at that time into
a chest and locked them up, never showing them to anyone for
the rest of his life. After he died the clothes were examined,
and it was seen that they were rent. This was told by his son,
Okubo Doko is said to have remarked:
Everyone says that no masters of the arts will appear as the
world comes to an end. This is something that I cannot claim
to understand. Plants such as peonies, azaleas and camellias
will be able to produce beautiful flowers, end of the world or
not. If men would give some thought to this fact, they would
understand. And if people took notice of the masters of even
these times, they would be able to say that there are masters
in the various arts. But people become imbued with the idea
that the world has come to an end and no longer put forth any
effort. This is a shame. There is no fault in the times.
While Fukahori Magoroku was still living as a dependent
second son, he once went hunting at Fukahori, and his retainer,
mistaking him for a wild boar in the darkness of the under-
growth, fired the rifle, wounding him in the knee and causing
him to fall from a great height. The retainer, greatly upset,
stripped himself to the waist and was about to commit sep-
puku. Magoroku said, "You can cut your stomach open later. I
don't feel well, so bring me some water to drink." The retainer
ran about and obtained some water for his master to drink and
in the process calmed down. After that the retainer was again
about to commit seppuku, but Magoroku forcibly stopped him.
Upon returning they checked in with the man on guard, and
Magoroku asked his father, Kanzaemen, to forgive the retainer.
Kanzaemon said to the retainer, "It was an unexpected mis-
take, so do not be worried. There is no need for reservation.
Continue with your work."
A man by the name of Takagi got into an argument with
three farmers in the neighborhood, was soundly beaten out in
the fields, and returned home. His wife said to him, "Haven't
you forgotten about the matter of death?" "Definitely not!" he
His wife then retorted, "At any rate, a man dies only once.
Of the various ways of dying -dying of disease, being cut down in
battle, seppuku or being beheaded-to die ignominiously would
be a shame," and went outside. She soon returned, carefully
put the two children to bed, prepared some torches, dressed
herself for battle after nightfall, and then said, "When I went
out to survey the scene a bit earlier, it seemed that the three
men went into one place for a discussion. Now is the right time.
Let's go quickly!" So saying, they went out with the husband in
the lead, burning torches and wearing short swords. They broke
into their opponents' place and dispersed them, both husband
and wife slashing about and killing two of the men and wounding
the other. The husband was later ordered to commit seppuku.
There was a certain
here WAS a certain retainer of Ikeda Shingen's who
started an argument with a man, grappled him to
the ground, thrashed him soundly, and trampled
on him until his companions ran up and pulled
them apart. The elders conferred over this and said, "The man
who was trampled should be punished." Shingen heard this
and said, "A fight is something that goes to the finish. A man
who forgets the Way of the Samurai and does not use his sword
will be forsaken by the gods and Buddhas. As an example to
subsequent retainers, both men should be crucified." The men
who had pulled them apart were banished.
In Yui Shosetsu's military instructions, "The Way of the
Three Ultimates," there is a passage on the character of karma.'
He received an oral teaching of about eighteen chapters con-
cerning the Greater Bravery and the Lesser Bravery. He neither
wrote them down nor committed them to memory but rather
forgot them completely. Then, in facing real situations, he acted
on impulse and the things that he had learned became wisdom
of his own. This is the character of karma.
When faced with a crisis, if one puts some spittle on his
earlobe and exhales deeply through his nose, he will overcome
anything at hand. This is a secret matter. Furthermore, when
experiencing a rush of blood to the head, if one puts spittle on
the upper part of one's ear, it will soon go away.
Tzu Ch'an was on the point of death when someone asked
him how to govern the country. He replied:
There is nothing that surpasses ruling with benevolence.
However, to put into practice enough benevolent governing to
rule the country is difficult. To do this lukewarmly will result
in neglect. If governing with benevolence is difficult, then it is
best to govern strictly. To govern strictly means to be strict
before things have arisen, and to do things in such a way that
evil will not arise. To be strict after the evil has arisen is like
laying a snare. There are few people who will make mistakes
with fire after having once been burned. Of people who regard
water lightly, many have been drowned.
A certain man said, "I know the shapes of Reason and of
Woman." When asked about this, he replied, "Reason is four-
cornered and will not move even in an extreme situation. Woman
is round. One can say that she does not distinguish between
good and evil or right and wrong and turn- bles into any place
The basic meaning of etiquette is to be quick at both the be-
ginning and end and tranquil in the middle. Mitani Chizaemon
heard this and said, "That's just like being a kaishaku.
Fukae Angen accompanied an acquaintance of his to the
priest Tesshu of Osaka, and at first said privately to the priest,
"This man aspires to study Buddhism and hopes to receive your
teaching. He is a man of rather high determination."
Soon after the interview the priest said, "Angen is a man
who does harm to others. He said that this man is a good man,
but wherein is his goodness? There was no goodness visible to
Tesshu's eyes. It is not a good idea to praise people carelessly.
When praised, both wise and foolish become prideful. To praise
is to do harm."
When Hotta Kaga no kami Masamori was a page to the
shogun, he was so headstrong that the shogun wished to test
what was at the bottom of his heart. To do this, the shogun
heated a pair of tongs and placed them in the hearth. Masamori's
custom was to go to the other side of the hearth, take the tongs,
and greet the master. This time, when he unsuspectingly picked
up the tongs, his hands were immediately turned. As he did
obeisance in his usual manner, however, the shogun quickly pot
up and took the tongs from him.
A certain person said, "When a castle is being surrendered,
as long as there are one or two men within it who are determined
to hold on, the defending forces will not be of one accord, and in
the end no one will hold the castle. "In the taking of the castle,
if when the man who is to receive it approaches and the one or
two men who are determined to hold on to it lightly fire on him
from the shadows, the man will be alarmed and the battle will
be on. In such a case, even though it is unwillingly done, the
castle will have to be stormed. This is called being forced to
besiege a castle by those besieged."
The Buddhist priest Ryozan wrote down some generalities
concerning Takanobu's battles. A certain priest saw this and
criticized him, saying, "It is inappropriate for a priest to write
about a military commander. No matter how successful his writ-
ing style may be, since he is not acquainted with military things,
he is liable to be mistaken in understanding a famous general's
mind. It is irreverent to pass on misconceptions concerning a
famous general to later generations."
A certain person said, "In the Saint's mausoleum there is a
poem that goes:
"If in one's heart He follows the path of sincerity, Though he
does not pray Will not the gods protect him? What is this path
A man answered him by saying, "You seem to like poetry. I
will answer you with a poem.
As everything in this world is but a shame, Death is the only
sincerity. It is said that becoming as a dead man in one's daily
living is the following of the path of sincerity."
If you cut a face lengthwise, urinate on it, and trample on it
with straw sandals, it is said that the skin will come off. This
was heard by the priest Gyojaku when he was in Kyoto. It is
information to be treasured.
One of Matsudaira Sagami no kami's retainers went to Kyoto
on a matter of debt collection and took up lodgings by renting
living quarters in a townhouse. One day while standing out
front watching the people go by, he heard a passer-by say, "They
say that Lord Matsudaira's men are involved in a fight right
now." The retainer thought, "How worrisome that some of my
companions are involved in a fight. There are some men to
relieve those at Edo staying here. Perhaps these are the men
involved." He asked the passer-by of the location, but when
he arrived out of breath, his companions had already been cut
down and their adver- saries were at the point of delivering the
coup de grace. He quickly let out a yell, cut the two men down,
and returned to his lodgings.
This matter was made known to an official of the shogunate,
and the man was called up before him and questioned. "You
gave assistance in your companions' fight and thus disregarded
the government's ordinance. This is true beyond a doubt, isn't
The man replied, "I am from the country, and it is difficult for
me to understand everything that Your Honor is saying. Would
you please repeat that?"
The official got angry and said, "Is there something wrong
with your ears? Didn't you abet a fight, commit bloodshed,
disregard the government's ordinance, and break the law?"
The man then replied, "I have at length understood what
you are saying. Although you say that I have broken the law
and disregarded the government's ordinance, I have by no means
done so. The reason for this is that all living things value their
lives, and this goes without saying for human beings. I, espe-
cially, value my life. However, I thought that to hear a rumor
that one's friends are involved in a fight and to pretend not to
hear this is not to preserve the Way of the Samurai , so I ran
to the place of action . To shamelessly return home after seeing
my friends struck down would surely have lengthened my life,
but this too would be disregarding the Way. In observing the
Way, one will throw away his own precious life. Thus, in order
to preserve the Way of the Samurai and not to disregard the
Samurai Ordinances, I quickly threw away my life at that place.
I beg that you execute me immediately."
The official was very impressed and later dismissed the mat-
ter, communicating to Lord Matsudaira, "You have a very able
samurai in your service. Please treasure him."
This is among the sayings of the priest Banker. "Not to
borrow the strength of another, nor to rely on one's own strength
; to cut off past and future thoughts, and not to live within the
everyday mind . . . then the Great Way is right before one's
Lord Soma's family genealogy, called the Chiken marokashi,
was the best in Japan. One year when his mansion suddenly
caught fire and was burning to the ground, Lord Soma said, "I
feel no regret about the house and all its furnishings, even if
they burn to the very last piece, because they are things that
can be replaced later on. I only regret that I was unable to take
out the genealogy, which is my family's most precious treasure."
There was one samurai among those attending him who said, "I
will go in and take it out."
Lord Soma and the others all laughed and said, "The house
is already engulfed in flames. How are you going to take it out?"
Now this man had never been loquacious, nor had he been
particularly useful, but being a man who did things from be-
ginning to end, he was engaged as an attendant. At this point
he said, "I have never been of use to my master because I'm so
careless, but I have lived resolved that someday my life should
be of use to him. This seems to be that time." And he leapt
into the flames. After the fire had been extinguished the master
said, 'Look for his remains. What a pity!"
Looking everywhere, they found his burnt corpse in the gar-
den adjacent to the living quarters. When they turned it over,
blood flowed out of the stomach. The man had cut open his
stomach and placed the genealogy inside and it was not damaged
at all. From this time on it was called the "Blood Genealogy.'
According to a certain person's story, "In the tradition of the
I Ching, it is a mistake to think that it is something for divina-
tion. Its essence is non-divination. This can be seen by the tact
that the Chinese character T is read as 'change.' Although one
divines good fortune, if he does evil it will become bad fortune.
And although he divines bad fortune, if he does good it will
become good fortune.
"Confucius' saying, 'By setting myself to the task for many
years and in the end learning change [I], I should make no big
mistakes,' is not a matter of learning the I Ching. It means by
studying the essence of change and conducting oneself for many
years in the Way of Good, one should make no mistakes."
Hirano Gonbei was one of the Men of Seven Spears who ad-
vanced straight up the hill at the battle of Shizugadake. At a
later date he was invited to become one of Lord Ieyasu's hata-
moto. Once he was being entertained at Master Hosekawa's.
The master said, "Master Gonbei's bravery is not a hidden mat-
ter in Japan. It is truly a shame that such a man of bravery has
been placed in a low rank such as you are in now. This must
be contrary to your wishes. If you were to become a retainer of
mine, I would give you half the domain."
Giving no answer at all, Gonbei suddenly pot up from his
seat, went out to the veranda, stood facing the house, and uri-
nated. Then he said, "If I were the master's retainer, it would
never do to urinate from here."
When the priest Daiyu from Sanshu was making a sick call
at a certain place, he was told, "The man has just now died."
Daiyu said, "Such a thing shouldn't have happened at this time.
Didn't this occur from insufficient treatment? What a shame!"
Now the doctor happened to be there at that time and heard
what was said from the other side of the shoji. He got extraor-
dinarily angry and came out and said, "I heard Your Reverence
say that the man died from insufficient treatment. Since I am a
rather bungling doctor, this is probably true. I have heard that
a priest embodies the power of the Buddhist Law. Let me see
you bring this dead man back to life, for without such evidence
Buddhism is worthless."
Daiyu was put out by this, but he felt that it would be un-
pardonable for a priest to put a blemish on Buddhism, so he
said, "I will indeed show you how to bring his life back by prayer.
Fleas' wait a moment. I must go prepare myself," and returned
to the temple. Soon he came back and sat in meditation next
to the corpse. Pretty soon the dead man began to breathe and
then completely revived. It is said that he lived on for another
half a year. As this was something told directly to the priest
Tannen, there is nothing mistaken about it.
When telling of the way he prayed, Daiyu said, "This is some-
thing not practiced in our sect, so I didn't know of any way of
prayer. I simply set my heart for the sake of the Buddhist Law,
returned to the temple, sharpened a short sword that had been
given as an offering to the temple, and put it in my robe. Then
I faced the dead man and prayed, 'If the strength of the Bud-
dhist Law exists, come back to life immediately. 'Since I was
thus committed , if he hadn't come back to life, I was resolved
to the point of cutting open my stomach and dying embracing
When Yamamoto Gorozaemon went to the priest Tetsugyu
in Edo wanting to hear something about Buddhism, Tetsugyo
said, "Buddhism gets rid of the discriminating mind. It is noth-
ing more than this. I can give you an illustration in terms of
the warrior. The Chinese character for "cowardice" is made by
adding the character for "meaning" to the character radical for
"mind". Now "meaning" is "discrimination," and when a man
attaches discrimination to his true mind, he becomes a coward.
In the Way of the Samurai can a man be courageous when dis-
crimination arises? I suppose you can get the idea from this."
According to what one of the elders said, taking an enemy
on the battlefield is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it
enters into the midst of a thousand of them, it gives no attention
to any bird other than the one that it has first marked.
Moreover, what is called a tezuke no kubi is a head that one
has taken after having made the declaration, "I will take that
warrior wearing such and such armor."
In the Kiyogunkan one person said, "When facing the enemy,
I feel as if I have just entered darkness. Because of this I get
heavily wounded. Although you have fought with many famous
men, you have never been wounded. Why is that?"
The other man answered, "When I have faced the enemy,
of course it is like being in the dark. But if at that time I
tranquilize my mind, it becomes like a night lit by a pale moon.
If I begin my attack from that point, I feel as though I will not
be wounded. "This is the situation at the moment of truth.
A rifle ball hitting the water will ricochet. It is said that if
one marks it with a knife or dents it with his teeth, it will pass
through the water. Moreover, when the master is hunting or
some such thing, if one marks the ball with a sign, it will come
in handy in case of a mishap.
When Master Owari, Master Kit and Master Mite were around
the age of ten, one day Lord Ieyasu was with them in the garden
and knocked down a big wasps' nest. A great number of wasps
flew out, and Master Owari and Master Kit were frightened and
ran away. But Master Mite picked off the wasps that were on
his face, threw them away one by one, and did not run away.
Another time, when Lord Ieyasu was roasting a great number
of chestnuts in a large hearth, he invited the boys to join him.
When the chestnuts got sufficiently hot, they all started to pop
out at once. Two of the boys were frightened and moved away.
Master Mite, however, not the least bit frightened, picked up
the ones that had popped out and threw them back into the
In order to study medicine Eguchi Than went to old Yoshida
lchian's place in the Bancho area of Edo. At that time, there
was in the neighborhood a teacher of swordsmanship, to whom
he used to go for training from time to time. There was a ronin
pupil there who one day came up to toan and said as a parting
remark, "I am now going to realize a longcherished ambition,
one I have had for many years. I am informing you of this
because you have always been friendly to me." Then he walked
away. Than felt uneasy about this, and when he followed him, he
could see a man wearing a braided hat coming from the opposite
Now the sword teacher was about eight or ten yards ahead
of the ronin, and in passing by the man with the hat he soundly
struck the man's scabbard with his own. When the man looked
around, the ronin knocked off' the man's hat and announced
in a loud voice that his purpose was revenge. With the man's
attention being distracted by the confusion, he was easily cut
down. A tremendous amount of congratulations came from the
nearby mansions and townhouses. It is said that they even
brought out money for him. This was a favorite story of Toan's.
Once when the priest Ungo of Matsushima was passing through
the mountains at night, he was set upon by mountain bandits.
Ungo said, "I am a man of this area, not a pilgrim. I have no
money at all, but you can have these clothes if you like. Please
spare my life."
The bandits said, "Well, our efforts have been in vain. We
don't need anything like clothes," and passed on. They had gone
about two hundred yards when Ungo turned back and called to
them, "I have broken the commandment against lying. In my
confusion I forgot that I had one piece of silver in my moneybag.
I am truly regretful I said that I had nothing at all. I have
it here now, so please take it." The mountain bandits were
deeply impressed, cut off their hair right there, and became his
In Edo four or five hatamoto gathered together one night
for a game of go. At one point one of them got up to go to
the toilet, and while he was gone an argument broke out. One
man was cut down, the lights were extinguished, and the place
was in an uproar. When the man came running back, he yelled,
"Everybody calm down I This is really over nothing at all. Put
the lamps back on and let me handle this." After the lamps
had been relighted and everyone had calmed down, the man
suddenly struck off the head of the other man involved in the
argument. He then said, "My luck as a samurai having run out,
I was not present at the fight. If this were seen as cowardice,
I would be ordered to commit seppuku. Even if that didn't
happen, I would have no excuse if it were said that I had fled to
the toilet, and I would still have no recourse other than seppuku.
I have done this thing because I thought I would die having cut
down an adversary rather than die having shamed myself alone."
When the shogun heard of this matter, he praised the man.
Once a group of ten blind masseuses were traveling together
in the mountains, and when they began to pass along the top of
a precipice, they all became very cautious, their legs shook, and
they were in general struck with terror. Just then the leading
man stumbled and fell of the cliff. Those that were left all
wailed, "Ahh, ahh I How piteous!" But the masseuse who had
fallen veiled up from below, "Don't be afraid. Although I fell,
it was nothing. I am now rather at ease. Before falling I kept
thinking 'What will I do if I fall? ' and there was no end to my
anxiety. But now I've settled down. If the rest of you want to
be at ease, fall quickly!"
Hojo Awa no kami once gathered together his disciples in the
martial arts and called in a physiognomist, who was popular in
Edo at the time, to have him determine whether they were brave
men or cowards. He had them see the man one by one, telling
them, "If he determines 'bravery' you should strive all the more.
If it is 'cowardice,' you should strive by throwing away your life.
It's something that you're born with, so there's no shame in it."
Hirose Denzaemon was then about twelve or thirteen years
old. When he sat down in front of the physiognomist, he said in
a bristling voice, "if you read cowardice in me, I'll cut you down
with a single blow !"
When there is something to be said, it is better if it is said
right away. If it is said later, it will sound like an excuse. More-
over, it is occasionally good to really overwhelm your opponent.
Also, in addition to having spoken sufficiently it is the highest
sort of victory to teach your opponent some- thing that will be
to his benefit. This is in accordance with the Way.
The priest Ryoi said: The samurai of old were mortified
by the idea of dying in bed ; they hoped only to die on the
battlefield. A priest, too, will be unable to fulfill the Way unless
he is of this disposition. The man who shuts himself away and
avoids the company of men is a coward. Only evil thoughts allow
one to imagine that something good can be done by shutting
oneself away. For even if one does some good thing by shutting
himself away, he will be unable to keep the way open for future
generations by promulgating the clan traditions .
Takeda Shingen's retainer, Amari Bizen no kami, was killed
in action and his son, Tozo, at the age of eighteen took over his
father's position as an armed horseman attached to a general.
Once a certain man in his group received a deep wound, and
since the blood would not clot, Tozo ordered him to drink the
feces of a red-haired horse mixed with water. The wounded man
said, "Life is dear to me. How can I drink horse feces?' Tozo
heard this and said, "What an admirably brave warrior ! What
you say is reasonable. However, the basic meaning of loyalty
requires us to preserve our lives and gain victory for our master
on the battlefield. Well, then, I'll drink some for you." Then he
drank some himself and banded over the cup to the man who
took the medicine gratefully and recovered.
In the "Notes on
N the "Notes on Martial Laws" it is written that:
The phrase, "Win first, fight later, " can be summed
up in the two words, "Win beforehand." The re-
sourcefulness of times of peace is the military prepa-
ration for times of war. With five hundred allies one can defeat
an enemy force of ten thousand.
When advancing on the enemy's castle and then pulling
back, do not retreat by the main road, but rather by the side
One should lay ones dead and wounded allies face down in
the direction of the enemy.
It is a matter of course that a warrior's attitude should be
to be in the vanguard during an attack and in the rear during
a retreat. In approaching for the attack he does not forget to
wait for the right moment. In waiting for the right moment he
never forgets the attack.
A helmet is usually thought to be very heavy, but when one
is attacking a castle or something similar, and arrows, bullets,
large rocks, great pieces of wood and the like are corning down,
it will not seem the least bit so.
Once when Master Yagyu was before the shogun on some
business, a number of bamboo swords fell from the ceiling. He
quickly clasped his hands above his head and was not struck.
Again, at a certain time when he was summoned, the shogun
was waiting behind cover with a bamboo sword ready to strike
him. Master Yagyu called out in a loud voice, "This is for your
own discipline. Don't look!" As the shogun turned around,
Master Yagyu stepped up and took the sword out of his hand.
A person who does not want to be struck by the enemies
arrows will have no divine protection. For a man who does not
wish to be hit by the arrows of a common soldier, but rather
by those of a warrior of fame, there will be the protection for
which he has asked.
Wind-bells are things that are used during campaigns in or-
der to know the direction of the wind. For night attacks, fire
can be set windward while the attack can be carried out from
the opposite direction. Your allies should be mindful of this
also. One should always hang wind-bells in order to know the
direction of the wind.
Lord Aki declared that he would not have his descendants
learn military tactics. He said, "On the battlefield, once discre-
tion starts it cannot be stopped. One will not break through to
the enemy with discretion. Indiscretion is most important when
in front of the tiger's den. Therefore, if one were informed of
military tactics, he would have many doubts, and there will be
no end to the matter. My descendants will not practice military
According to Lord Naoshige's words:
There is something to which every young samurai should
pay attention. During times of peace when listening to stories
of battle, one should never say, "In facing such a situation, what
would a person do?" Such words are out of the question. How
will a man who has doubts even in his own room achieve any-
thing on the battlefield? There is a saying that goes, "No matter
what the circumstances might be, one should be of the mind to
win. One should be holding the first spear to strike." Even
though you have put your life on the line, there is nothing to be
done when the situation doesn't go as planned.
Takeda Shingen once said, "If there was a man who could
kill Lord Ieyasu, I would give him a handsome reward." Hearing
this, a boy of thirteen entered into the service of Lord Ieyasu and
one night when he saw that Ieyasu had retired, took a stab at
his bedding. Lord Ieyasu was actually in the next room silently
reading a sutra, but he quickly grabbed the boy.
When the investigation was held, the boy related the facts
honestly, and Lord Ieyasu said, "You seemed to be an excellent
young man, so I employed you on friendly terms. Now, however,
I am even more impressed by you." He then sent the lad back
One night some samurai from Karatsu gathered together and
were playing go. Master Kitabatake was watching the game,
and when he offered a suggestion, one man attacked him with
a sword. After the people around them had stopped the man,
Master Kitabatake pinched out the light of the candle and said,
"It was nothing more than my own indiscretion, and I apologize.
The sword hit the go case; I was not the least bit wounded."
Then the candle was relighted, but when the man came to
reconciliate and offer him a sake cup, Kitabatake cut the man's
head off with one blow. Presently he said, "My thigh having
been cut through, it was difficult to offer any resistance, but by
binding my leg with my coat and supporting myself with the go
board, 1 have done this thing." Having said this, he expired.
There is nothing so painful as regret. We would all like to
be without it. However, when we are very happy and become
elated, or when we habitually jump into something thought-
lessly, later we are distraught, and it is for the most part be-
cause we did not think ahead and are now regretful. Certainly
we should try not to become dejected, and when very happy
should calm our minds.
These are teachings of Yamamoto Jin'emon:
• Singlemindedness is all-powerful.
• Tether even a roasted chicken.
• Continue to spur a running horse.
• A man who will criticize you openly carries no connivance.
• A man exists for a generation, but his name lasts to the
end of time.
• Money is a thing that will be there when asked for. A
good man is not so easily found.
• Walk with a real man one hundred yards and he'll tell you
at least seven lies.
• To ask when you already know is politeness. To ask when
you don't know is the rule.
• Wrap your intentions in needles of pine.
• One should not open his mouth wide or yawn in front of
another. Do this behind your fan or sleeve.
• A straw hat or helmet should be worn tilled toward the
It is a principle of the art of war that one should simply lay
down his life and strike. If one's opponent also does the same,
it is an even match. Defeating one's opponent is then a matter
of faith and destiny.
One should not show his sleeping quarters to other people.
The times of deep sleep and dawning are very important. One
should be mindful of this. This is from a story by Nagahama
When one departs for the front, he should carry rice in a
bag. His underwear should be made from the skin of a badger.
This way he will not have lice. In a long campaign, lice are
When meeting with the enemy, there is a way to determine
his strength. If he has his head cast down, he will appear black
and is strong. If he is looking upward, he will appear white and
is weak. This is from a story by Natsume Toneri.
If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of
no use whatsoever. The saying that "All abilities come from one
mind" sounds as though it has to do with sentient matters, but
it is in fact a matter of being unattached to life and death. With
such non-attachment one can accomplish any feat. Martial arts
and the like are related to this insofar as they can lead to the
To calm one's mind, one swallows his saliva. This is a secret
matter. When one becomes angry, it is the same. Putting spittle
on one's forehead is also good. In the Yoshida school of archery,
swallowing one's spittle is the secret principle of the art.
A certain general said, "For soldiers other than officers, if
they would test their armor, they should test only the front.
Furthermore, while ornamentation on armor is unnecessary, one
should be very careful about the appearance of his helmet. It is
something that accompanies his head to the enemy's camp."
Nakano Jin'emon said, "Learning such things as military tac-
tics is useless. If one does not strike out by simply closing his
eyes and rushing into the enemy, even if it is only one step, he
will be of no use." This was also the opinion of Iyanaga Sasuke.
In Natsume Toneri's "Military Stories" it is written: "Look
at the soldiers of recent times ! Even in long battles there are
hardly one or two occasions when blood is washed with blood.
One should not be negligent." Toneri was a ronin from the
To have execution grounds in a place where travelers come
and go is useless. The executions in Edo and the Kamigala
area are meant to be an example for the whole country. But
the executions in one province are only for an example in that
province. If crimes are many, it is a province's shame. How
would this look to other provinces?
With the passing of time, the criminal will forget the reason
for his crime ; it is best to execute him on the spot.
Matsudaira Izu no kami said to Master Mizuno Kcnmotsu,
"You're such a useful person, it's a shame that you're so short."
Kenmotsu replied, "That's true. Sometimes things in this
world don't go the way we would like. Now if I were to cut off
your head and attach it to the bottom of my feet, I would be
taller. But that's something that couldn't be done."
A certain person was passing by the town of Yae when sud-
denly his stomach began to hurt. He stopped at a house on a
side street and asked to use the toilet. There was only a young
woman there, but she took him to the back and showed him
where it was. Just as he was taking off his hakama and going
into the toilet, the woman's husband came home and accused
them both of adultery. In the end, it became a public matter.
Lord Naoshige heard the case and said, "Even if this is not
a matter of adultery, it is the same as adultery to take off one's
hakama without hesitation in a place where there is an unac-
companied woman, and in the woman's case to allow someone
to disrobe while her husband is absent from home ."
It is said that they were both condemned to death for this
In assessing the enemy's castle there is a saying that goes,
"Smoke and mist are like looking at a spring mountain. After
the rain is like viewing a clear day." There is weakness in perfect
Among the words spoken by great generals, there are some
that were said offhandedly. One should not receive these words
in the same manner, however.
People who have an intelligent appearance will not be out-
standing even if they do something good, and if they do some-
thing normal, people will think them lacking. But if a person
who is thought of as having a gentle disposition does even a
slightly good thing, he will be praised by people.
On the fourteenth day of the seventh month in the third
year of Shotoku, there were some cooks in the midst of prepa-
rations for the Ben Festival in the outer citadel of the cas-
tle. One of them, Hara Jurozaemon, unsheathed his sword and
cut off the head of Sagara Genzaemon. Mawatari Rokuuemon,
Aiura Tarobei, Kola Kinbei and Kakihara Riemen all ran away
in confusion. When Jurozaemon sighted Kinbei and started
chasing him, the latter fled to the foot soldiers' gathering area.
There, the daimyo's palanquin attendant, Tanaka Takeuemon,
stood against Jurozaemon and took away his still drawn sword.
Ishirnaru San'emon chased Jurozaemon, and when they came
to the foot soldiers' area, assisted Takeuemon.
The punishment was given on the twenty-ninth day of the
eleventh month in the same year. Jurozaemon was bound with
rope and beheaded. Rokuuemon, Tarobei, Kinbei and Riemon
were banished, and San'emon was ordered to retire. Takeuemon
was rewarded with three pieces of silver.
It was later said that Takeuemon had been slow to act, for
he had not bound the man at that time.
Among Takeda Shingen's retainers there were men of match-
less courage, but when Katsuyori was killed in the fight at Ten-
mokuzan, they all fled. Tsuchiya Sozo, a warrior who had been
in disfavor for many years, came out alone, however, and said, "I
wonder where all the men are who spoke so bravely every day?
I shall return the master's favors to me." And he fell alone in
The essentials of speaking are in not speaking at all. If you
think that you can finish something without speaking, finish it
without saying a single word. If there is something that cannot
be accomplished without speaking, one should speak with few
words, in a way that will accord well with reason.
To open one's mouth indiscriminately brings shame, and
there are many times when people will turn their backs on such
A devotee of the Nembutsu recites the Buddha's name with
every incoming and outgoing breath in order never to forget the
Buddha. A retainer, too, should be just like this in thinking of
his master. Not to forget one's master is the most fundamental
thing for a retainer.
Men who did well at the time of their death were men of
real bravery. There are many examples of such. But people
who talk in an accomplished fashion every day yet are agitated
at the time of their death can be known not to have true bravery.
In the secret principles of Yagyu Tajima no kami Munenori
there is the saying, "There are no military tactics for a man of
great strength." As proof of this, there was once a certain vassal
of the shogun who came to Master Yagyu and asked to become
a disciple. Master Yagyu said, "You seem to be a man who is
very accomplished in some school of martial art. Let us make
the masterdisciple contract after I learn the name of the school."
But the man replied, "I have never practiced one of the mar-
Master Yagyu said, "Have you come to make sport of Tajima
no kami? Is my perception amiss in thinking that you are a
teacher to the shogun?" But the man swore to it and Master
Yagyu then asked, "That being so, do you not have some deep
The man replied, "When I was a child, I once became sud-
denly aware that a warrior is a man who does not hold his life
in regret. Since I have held that in my heart for many years, it
has become a deep conviction, and today I never think about
death. Other than that I have no special conviction."
Master Yagyu was deeply impressed and said, "My percep-
tions were not the least bit awry. The deepest principle of my
military tactics is just that one thing. Lip until now , among
all the many hundreds of disciples I have had, there is not one
who is licensed in this deepest principle. It is not necessary for
you to take up the wooden sword. I will initiate you right now."
And it is said that he promptly banded him the certified scroll.
This is a story of Muragawa Soden's.
Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily.
Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should
meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and
swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into
the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken
to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs,
dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's
master. And every day without fail one should consider himself
There is a saying of the elders' that goes, "Step from under
the eaves and you're a dead man. Leave the gate and the enemy
is waiting." This is not a matter of being careful. It is to consider
oneself as dead beforehand.
People will become your enemies if you become eminent too
quickly in life, and you will be ineffectual. Rising slowly in
the world, people will be your allies and your happiness will he
assured. In the long run, whether you are fast or slow, as long
as you have people's understanding there will be no danger. It
is said that fortune that is urged upon you from others is the
The warriors of old cultivated mustaches, for as proof that a
man had been slain in battle, his ears and nose would be cut off
and brought to the enemy's camp. So that there would be no
mistake as to whether the person was a man or a woman, the
mustache was also cut off with the nose. At such a time the head
was thrown away if it had no mustache, for it might be mistaken
for that of a woman. Therefore, growing a mustache was one
of the disciplines of a samurai so that his head would not be
thrown away upon his death. Tsunetomo said, "If one washes
his face with water every morning, if he is slain his complexion
will not change."
The word "person of the north" comes from a tradition of
the correct way of upbringing. A couple will put their pillows
in the west, and the man, lying on the south side, will face the
north, while the woman, lying on the north side, will face the
In bringing up a boy, one should first encourage a sense of
valor. From the time he is young the child should liken his par-
ents to the master, and learn everyday politeness and etiquette,
the serving of other people, the ways of speech, forbearance and
even the correct way of walking down the street. The elders
were taught in the same fashion. When he does not put effort
into things, he should be scolded and made to go the entire day
without eating. This is also one of the disciplines of a retainer.
As for a girl, it is most important to teach her chastity from
the time she is a child. She should not be in the company of a
man at a distance of less than six feet, nor should she meet them
eye to eye, nor should she receive things from them directly from
hand to hand. Neither should she go sightseeing or take trips
to temples. A woman who has been brought up strictly and has
endured suffering at her own borne will suffer no ennui after she
In dealing with younger children one should use rewards and
punishments. If one is lax in being sure that they do as they are
told, young children will become self-interested and will later
be involved in wrongdoings. It is something about which one
should be very careful.
Late night idle talk
S A retainer of the Nabeshima clan, one should
have the intention of studying our province's his-
tory and traditions, but provincial studies are made
light of nowadays. The basic reason for this study
is to understand the foundation of our clan, and to know that
the clan's forefathers established its perpetuity by means of their
suffering and compassion. The fact that our clan has perpetu-
ally continued in an unrivaled manner up to this very day is due
to the humanity and martial valor of Master Ryuzoji Iekane,
the charity and faith of Master Nabeshima Kiyohisa, and the
appearance of Lord Ryuzoji Takanobu and Lord Nabeshima
Naoshige and their might.
I am at a complete loss when it comes to understanding
why people of this generation have forgotten these things and
respect the Buddhas of other places. Neither the Shakyamuni
Buddha, nor Confucius, nor Kusunoki, nor Shingen were ever
retainers of the Ryuzojis or the Nabeshimas; hence it cannot
be said that they are in harmony with our clan's customs. In
times of war or in times of peace it would be sufficient if both
the upper and lower classes would worship our ancestors and
study their teachings. One worships the head of whatever clan
or discipline to which he belongs. Outside learning for retainers
of our clan is worthless. One may think that it is fine to study
other disciplines as a diversion after his provincial studies are
replete. Yet if a person has a good understanding of provincial
studies, he will see that there is nothing lacking in them.
Today, if someone from another clan were to ask about the
origin of the Ryuzojis and the Nabeshimas, or why the fief was
transferred from the former to the latter, or if they were to
ask something like, "I have heard that the Ryuzojis and the
Nabeshimas are the greatest in Kyushu for deeds of martial
valor, but can you tell me some of the particulars?" I suppose
that the man with no knowledge of provincial studies would not
be able to answer a word.
For a retainer there should be nothing other than doing his
own job. For the most part people dislike their own jobs, find
those of others more interesting, cause misunderstanding, and
bring on utter disasters. Good models of men who performed
their duty in their work are Lord Naoshige and Lord Katsushige.
The retainers of those times all performed their duties. From
the upper classes, men who would be of good use were searched
out, while from the lower classes men desired to be useful. The
minds of the two classes were of mutual accord , and the strength
of the clan was secure.
In all our generations of masters there has never been a bad
or foolish one, and in the end there has never been one who
ranked second or third among the daimyo of Japan. It is truly a
wonderful clan; this is due to the faith of its founders. Moreover,
they did not send the clan's retainers to other provinces, nor did
they invite men from other provinces in. Men who were made
ronin were kept within the province, as were the descendants of
those who were made to commit seppuku. The wonder of being
born into a clan with such a deep pledge between master and
servant is an inexpressible blessing, passed down through the
apes, for both farmer and townsman. This goes without saying
for the retainer.
The foundation of a Nabeshima samurai should be in know-
ing this fact; in being deeply resolved to return this blessing by
being useful; in serving more and more selflessly when treated
kindly by the master ; in knowing that being made a ronin or
being ordered to commit seppuku are also forms of service ;
and in aiming to be mindful of the clan forever, whether one
is banished deep in the mountains or buried under the earth.
Although it is unfitting for someone like me to say this, in dy-
ing it is my hope not to become a Buddha. Rather, my will
is permeated with the resolution to help manage the affairs of
the province, though I be reborn as a Nabeshima samurai seven
times. One needs neither vitality nor talent. In a word, it is a
matter of having the will to shoulder the clan by oneself.
How can one human being be inferior to another? In all
matters of discipline, one will be useless unless he has great
pride. Unless one is determined to move the clan by himself, all
his discipline will come to naught. Although, like a tea kettle, it
is easy for one's enthusiasm to cool, there is a way to keep this
from happening. My own vows are the following:
• Never to be outdone in the Way of the Samurai.
• To be of good use to the master.
• To be filial to my parents.
• To manifest great compassion, and to act for the sake of
If one dedicates these four vows to the gods and Buddhas
every morning, he will have the strength of two men and will
never slip backward. One must edge forward like the inchworrn,
bit by bit. The gods and Buddhas, too, first started with a vow.